LAHORE, (MANEND NEWS): Two-member bench of the Lahore High
Court (LHC) headed Justice Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar and Comprising
Justice Asjad Javaid Ghural on Wednesday granted bail to Leader of
the Opposition in Punjab Assembly and Vice President Pakistan Muslim
League-Nawaz (PML-N) Muhammad Hamza Shehbaz Sharif in money
laundering and assets beyond means case after 20 months, ordering
the jail authorities to immediately release him after the submission of
A two-judge bench of the LHC announced the order after the counsel
for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) completed his arguments
during Wednesday’s hearing.
Earlier this month, Hamza Shehbaz had filed his second petition before
the high court for post-arrest bail on merit in the reference related to
money laundering and assets beyond means.
The bail had also been sought on an additional ground of hardship and
inordinate delay in the trial proceedings as the Supreme Court in
January denied relief to the petitioner with a direction to approach the
LHC with fresh grounds for bail.
The petition filed through advocates Chauhdry Azam Nazir Tarar and
Muhammad Amjad Pervaiz stated that Hamza was arrested on June
11, 2019, while the reference was filed on Aug 20, 2020, whereas the
charges were framed on Nov 11, 2020, after a period of
“unconscionable delay” of 17 months. It said the delay could not be
attributed to the petitioner in any manner whatsoever.
It argued that the petitioner was entitled to bail on this ground of
delay alone without touching the merits of the case.
During Wednesday’s hearing, NAB’s Special Prosecutor Syed Faisal
Raza Bukhari argued against granting bail to Hamza. He said that
Hamza’s assets in 2003 amounted only to a few hundred thousands
which mushroomed to Rs523 million in 2018.
“Millions [of rupees] have come in Hamza Shehbaz’s personal accounts
illegally. An inquiry into money laundering and assets beyond means
was started during the tenure of the PML-N government. Notices were
issued to Hamza Shehbaz but he did not provide answers [on where
he got] any amount,” Bukhari informed the court.
NAB filed the reference in 2020 after the investigation was completed,
he said, adding that of the 20 people who were named in the
reference, six had become absconders while four turned approvers in
The accused were indicted in November 2020 and the trial was
ongoing, Bukhari further said. He reminded the court that the LHC had
previously rejected Hamza’s bail.
“Hamza Shehbaz received more than Rs81m telegraphic transfers
(TTs) from abroad. He has not disclosed the source of his money till
The NAB counsel also presented a chart from the anti-graft watchdog
on money laundering. “A money laundering network was operated in
Model Town (Lahore). TTs were sent in the name of Nusrat Shehbaz,
Hamza Shehbaz, Rabiya Imran, Javeria Ali, and Salman Shehbaz. After
receiving the TTs, Hamza and Salman Shehbaz invested [the money]
in different ventures.”
Giving further details, Bukhari said Mushtaq Cheeni deposited a “fake
loan” of several hundred thousands in Hamza’s account. “Some papad
wala and some doodh wala (milkman) kept sending money into his
account. The poor papad wala did not even know how his identity card
and bank account were being used.” He claimed that Hamza was a
beneficiary of money laundering.
“Merit is also seen in a case and not just hardship. Hamza’s lawyer has
taken three [adjournments] in the trial and it will be delayed as a
result. NAB has not asked for even one adjournment till today,”
Hamza’s counsels argued that NAB claimed Hamza Shehbaz
established an offshore company and made the suspicious transaction
On this, Justice Asjad Javed Ghural asked “why did you people not
take up this argument while filing the bail petition in the apex court?”
In NAB’s reference, the NAB associated all Hamza’s assets with his
father Shehbaz and further allegations were leveled that Hamza was
‘benamdar’ of his father.
“Why did it take you [NAB] a year to filing this reference,” the bench
asked the NAB prosecutor.
At which Prosecutor Bukhari argued the evidence was abroad. “It took
time in collecting evidence about suspicious transactions, four offshore
companies and other records.”
NAB in its reply had also opposed the bail and requested the LHC for
dismissing the post-arrest bail of the accused on the plea that the
accused made illegal assets by committing the heinous offence of
Meanwhile, PML-N Deputy Secretary General Ataullah Tarar termed the
decision a “victory”, saying that the LHC had directed that Hamza be
released after submission of two bail bonds of Rs1m each.
Previously, the LHC had dismissed the first petition of the PML-N
leader for post-arrest bail on Feb 11, 2020.
On June 11, 2019, the accountability watchdog had arrested Hamza
Shahbaz in Ramzan sugar mills, money laundering and assets beyond
means cases after LHC turned down his applications for extension in
Salman Butt, the defense counsel for Hamza, had argued that
according to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ordinance, the
anti-graft watchdog could not issue arrest warrants unless an inquiry
over the matter was completed.
To which, Justice Naqvi had remarked that the judgment would be
done according to the constitution, and justice would be ensured.