Fri, 01 Dec 2023

Lahore [Pakistan], September 23 (ANI): Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has moved the accountability courts of Lahore to reopen as many as 115 cases, including those against former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza, former federal minister Khwaja Saad Rafiq and his brother Salman and Punjab Assembly speaker Sibtain Khan, The Dawn News reported on Saturday.

The Dawn News reported that the courts had returned these references to the NAB chairman regarding the now-discontinued amendments of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 for sending them to the courts of the relevant jurisdiction.

The recent ruling of the Pakistan Supreme Court had clipped the jurisdiction of the bureau to take cognisance of any alleged financial corruption involving money less than PKR 500 million.

Whereas the NAB in the Ramzan Sugar Mills reference against Shehbaz and his son made a case of alleged corruption of Rs213 million.

As per the Pakistan-based news daily, Former Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was arrested on October 5, 2019 and the Lahore High Court released him on bail on February 14, 2019.

The LHC in its bail granting order observed that prima facie, allegations about gratification, corrupt practice, abuse of authority, kickbacks and commission required further probe during trial as at this stage cogent evidence was not available.

The investigating agency had alleged that the Shehbaz and his son Hamza with the abetment and connivance of each other caused a loss of national exchequer of Rs213 by committing the offence of misuse of authority.

It said Shehbaz had issued a directive for the construction of a drain in Chiniot district primarily for the use of Ramzan Sugar Mills owned by his sons -- Hamza and Suleman.

The NAB is also likely to approach the accountability court for the reopening of Paragon reference against former federal minister for railways Khwaja Saad Rafiq, his brother Khwaja Salman Rafiq and others, reports Dawn News.

The court on March 29, 2023, returned the Paragon reference to the NAB chairman against Saad, Salman and others.

Another accountability court on Oct 6, 2022, returned to the NAB a reference of corruption in Chiniot minerals contracts against PA Speaker Sibtain Khan and others.

Earlier, Pakistan's Apex Court approved the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan's petition challenging amendments made to the country's accountability laws during the tenure of the previous Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)- led government, Geo News reported on Friday.

These cases, which were closed down following the amendments, will now be restored as the court declared the amendments void.

The three-member bench, headed by CJP Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, held more than 50 hearings on PTI chief Khan's petition against the amendments and reserved the judgment on the hearing on September 5.

The Pakistan-based news outlet reported that the Supreme Court in its verdict restored graft cases against public office holders that were closed down following the amendments.

The apex court ordered restoring all graft cases worth less than Rs500 million that were closed down against the political leaders belonging to different political parties and public office holders and declared the amendments void.

These include the Toshakhana reference against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Supremo Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, along with the LNG reference against former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the rental power reference against former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Geo News reported.

Additionally, the court directed the NAB to return all records related to cases to relevant courts within seven days. (ANI)

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