New LHC bench formed to hear Hamza’s bail plea


The Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice on Wednesday constituted a new two-member bench to hear bail petitions filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shehbaz in three different graft cases.

The bench, comprising Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Shahid Waheed Khan, will hear Hamza’s petitions in Ramzan Sugar Mills, Saaf Pani and assets beyond means cases on June 3.

Another LHC bench, headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, had earlier referred the petitions to the LHC chief justice to fix them before another bench after Hamza expressed mistrust on the bench. Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem was the other member of the bench.

During the hearing, the opposition leader said he respected the judiciary and was not afraid of being arrested.

“The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman had earlier claimed that I will not be able to get bail as the bench has changed now. Has the NAB chairman become so powerful that he can get my bail revoked?” Hamza asked. He, therefore, requested the bench to transfer the case to another bench to hear and decide it.

Granting Hamza’s request, Justice Najafi referred the matter to the chief justice to fix it before any other bench. The bench also extended his pre-arrest bail till the next hearing.

Also on Wednesday, Hamza Shahbaz did not an appear before NAB, Lahore office. Instead, he expressed his distrust in the bureau through a written reply.

Earlier, NAB had issued a call-up notice to Hamza.

“I have lost confidence in the credibility and impartiality of the bureau and thus have no trust in the so-called investigation being carried under NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal,” he said.

“On account of various factors, I have always had serious reservations as to the motive behind the proceedings by the bureau during the recent past; the said reservations have proven to be well founded on account of an interview of NAB chairman by an eminent journalist wherein the chairman went on to make disclosures compromising minimum standards of impartiality and fairness of an investigation,” the PML-N leader said.

“As per contents, the said interview appears to be a political narrative of the present regime, rather than an account of the impartiality of an investigating agency,” he said.

The PML-N leader also mentioned in the letter that the instant call-up notice contained similar questions to which he had already responded.

“I have been declaring all my assets and income related information before the tax authorities and as a public office holder before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as per the law,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Hamza had called for an inquiry into the video leak and controversial interview of NAB chairman by a parliamentary committee. He said his party did not want removal of the NAB chairman, but the parliament should reveal the truth.

Targeting the NAB for its “selective” accountability, the opposition leader questioned the silence of the bureau on the alleged corruption of the PM’s sister. He claimed that the prime minister wanted the NAB to arrest the whole opposition. He said all the lies Imran Khan told the nation from the container were being exposed now. “There will be no more selective accountability,” he added.