LHC refers Hamza’s bail matter to another division bench


LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan on Wednesday entrusted proceedings on the bail petition of Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz to another division bench after the bench seized with the case recused itself from hearing it following reservations expressed by the petitioner.

The bench comprising Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Waheed Khan will take up the bail petition on June 3.

Previously, a bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem had been hearing the bail petition in multiple inquiries initiated against Mr Hamza by the National Accountability Bureau.

Mr Hamza on Tuesday personally told the bench that he had reservations on the bench since NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal made the bail proceedings controversial by discussing them in a recent interview to the media. He said the bureau’s chairman in his interview claimed to have influenced the formation of the bench. He had requested the bench to not proceed with the matter to protect integrity of the courts.

The bench had admitted the request and recused itself from the matter, requesting the chief justice to fix it before any other bench. Mr Hamza is facing inquiries in the matters including Punjab Saaf Pani Company, Ramzan Sugar Mills, money laundering and assets beyond means.

KHWAJAS: After the distrust expressed by Hamza Shahbaz, the division bench of Justice Ali Baqar Najafi on Wednesday asked the counsel for former railways minister Khwaja Saad Rafiq and his brother Khwaja Salman Rafiq whether their clients had trust in the bench.

At this, advocates Azam Nazir Tarar and Amjad Pervez said they and their clients had complete trust in the bench. They had same answer when the bench asked them to think again before further proceedings. At this, the bench adjourned hearing till June 18.

The NAB accused Khwaja brothers of establishing a housing project – Air Avenue – which was later converted into a new housing project – Paragon City Pvt Ltd.

The Paragon City, as per the NAB, was an illegal society and not approved by the Lahore Development Authority.

NAB notice: Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz on Wednesday replied to the National Accountability Bureau’s call up notice instead of appearing before it saying he had already furnished information mentioned in its questionnaire.

“I have been declaring all my assets and income related information before the tax authorities and the Election Commission as per law,” he said, adding that he had serious reservations behind the NAB proceedings against him. “In an interview the NAB chairman made disclosures about his impartiality and fairness of investigation (against him). Because of this I have lost confidence in the credibility and impartiality of NAB and investigation carried under its chairman (against me),” Hamza said.

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