Lahore (HRNW): The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested on Tuesday Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz after the Lahore High Court dismissed his bail petitions in three cases. A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Mazahir Ali Naqvi, dismissed the petitions after the PML-N leader’s lawyer requested it to allow him to withdraw the applications in the cases related to Saaf Pani Company, Ramazan Sugar Mills and assets. Hamza, who appeared before the bench to request an extension in his bail which expired today, was arrested by a NAB team from the court premises following the dismissal of the bail.
The NAB team left with him for the Thokar Niaz Baig office of the corruption watchdog. The arrest came a day after former president Asif Ali Zardari was taken into custody from Zardari House in the federal capital after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) rejected his plea for extension in bail in the fake bank accounts case. Previously, a two-member bench, headed by Justice Mazahir Ali Naqvi, had extended his bail until June 11 in the cases related to Punjab Saaf Pani Company, Ramzan Sugar Mills, money laundering and assets beyond means. During the previous hearing, Justice Naqvi had expressed displeasure over sloganeering by PML-N workers who accompanied Hamza to the court asking slogans are being chanted in the high court every other day, is this a high court or Mochigate?
“Why doesn’t Hamza Shahbaz join the probe like a common man?” he asked. At this, Hamza’s lawyer replied that his client had been joining the probe continuously. The bench also censured a team of NAB over their lack of preparation in the case. Earlier, on May 29, the Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice had constituted a new two-member bench to hear the bail petitions of Hamza Shehbaz. The bench, under the stewardship of Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, referred the petitions to the LHC chief justice to fix them before another bench after Hamza expressed mistrust in the bench. Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem was other member of the bench.
During the hearing, the opposition leader said he respected the judiciary and was not afraid of his arrest. Referring to a controversial interview of the NAB chairman, he contended that the bureau’s head claimed that Hamza will not be able to hide behind the bail as the bench had changed now. He questioned if the NAB chairman had become powerful enough to get a bench changed or bail revoked. He, therefore, requested the bench to transfer the case to another bench to hear and decide it.