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SHC rejects pleas of Sharjeel, Asim against arrests by NAB

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday dismissed separate applications submitted by former federal minister Dr Asim Hussain and Provincial Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon against their arrests by National Accountability Bureau in billions’ corruption cases.

The petitioners, who included Sharjeel Memon, Dr Asim and others, had moved to the SHC challenging issuance of non-bailable arrest warrants in different corruption references by accountability courts.

A member of the bench Justice KK Agha remarked that NAB laws should be equally implemented in all provinces. “We are not happy with discriminatory attitude of the NAB and NAB courts”, he further remarked.

The bench, however, observed that the NAB courts had the right to issue arrest warrants against the accused. “The law is not being made by court. It’s the parliament which does legislations. Go and bring a new law or amend the existing one,” the justice remarked.

On this counsel of the PPP leaders, Farooq H. Naik said that Asif Zardari was released in one case on Saturday and arrested in a case of car duty next Monday.

The two-judge bench of the high court asked the NAB prosecutor as to why the accused persons of Sindh and Punjab were being treated differently.

The bench, however, rejected the pleas and declared that since it was the prerogative of the NAB courts to issue arrest warrants, the High Court won’t annul such warrants.

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) last month took into custody former Sindh Minister, Sharjeel Inam Memon, and ten other accused in a multibillion-rupee corruption case from outside the Sindh High Court (SHC) after the high court rejected their interim bail.

“NAB Karachi today arrested eleven accused persons wanted in Reference No. 50/2016, consequent upon cancellation of their ad interim bails by Sindh High Court,” confirmed a spokesman for the NAB Karachi soon after the former minister was taken by Rangers and NAB team into custody from outside the Sindh High Court.

Earlier, the minister remained inside the courtroom for several hours and tried to get his bail extended by filing a review petition in SHC, which was rejected by the Chief Justice SHC.

“The accused persons are charged for embezzlement of Rs. 5,766,479,766 purportedly paid to seven advertising agencies for awareness campaigns between 2013 and 2015,” a handout issued by NAB reads, adding that the accused persons jointly and severally in connivance with each other have been alleged for awarding the contracts to favor certain advertising agencies and to their own favor, in violation of relevant laws and rules and against exorbitant rates.

Earlier, the paramilitary Rangers and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials remained standing outside the court for several hours waiting for Sharjeel Inam Memon to come out of the court, which after dismissing his bail plea in the Rs 6billion graft case ordered his immediate arrest.

Soon after the judged ordered to dismiss interim bail Memon decided to challenge the SHC order in the Supreme Court to evade arrest, but that didn’t happen.

Memon remained inside courtroom till 5pm but had to come out ultimately after the court time ended. As soon as he came out of the court the Rangers and NAB officials waiting outside took him into custody amid high drama.

Earlier in the day, a two-judge bench of the Sindh High Court, headed by SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh, had rejected the PPP leader’s bail application along with the applications of 12 others accused.

The PPP leader, who returned to Pakistan from self-imposed exile in March this year, obtained protective bail in April in connection with an inquiry initiated by the top graft buster.

Memon had fled to Dubai in 2015 after NAB launched a crackdown against allegedly corrupt political figures and bureaucrats as part of the Karachi operation.

The anti-graft watchdog later filed a reference in the accountability court regarding alleged corruption in the advertisements campaign of the provincial information department.

In a previous hearing of the case, NAB had said that it had investigated corruption and corrupt practices in the award of advertisements against the law and at exorbitant rates to TV channels and FM radio stations for various awareness campaigns between July 2013 and June 2015, It said it had found that the accused acted with the connivance of each other, resulting in losses to the national exchequer.

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