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SC dismisses Hamza Shahbaz’s plea seeking post-arrest bail

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A screengrab of Hamza Shehbaz addressing a press conference. 

ISLAMABAD:  A three-member bench headed  by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Yahyah Afridi disposed of a post-arrest bail petition filed by PML-N vice-president and Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader Hamza Shahbaz after his counsel withdrew the plea .

The petition sought a post-arrest bail for  Hamza in a money laundering and assets beyond means corruption reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). 

The PML-N leader had approached the apex court in April 2020, two months after the Lahore High Court (LHC) denied him bail in the money laundering case but granted it in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.

Hamza then sought bail on the grounds of being vulnerable to coronavirus in jail but the LHC did not agree with the grounds. Following this, the counsel withdrew the application and moved the apex court.

It may be added here that Hamza was arrested in June 2019 from inside the LHC in relation to two cases pertaining to money laundering and accumulating assets beyond means of income.

Today’s hearing

During today’s hearing, Justice Masood asked Hamza’s counsel if he wanted to pursue the case on the basis of merit or hardship. Advocate Amjad Pervaiz said bail is being sought on hardship as his client is in jail.

Justice Masood questioned how the top court could hear the plea on hardship if there was no mention of it during the high court proceedings. To this, Pervaiz said the situation was different at the time. “There were no grounds for hardship at the time.”

In his arguments, the counsel said no one can be indefinitely detained. “No reference had been filed against Hamza when he applied for post-arrest bail. The charges against my client were for Rs7 billion but the reference has been filed for Rs530 million.”

Justice Afridi observed that it would be appropriate for the petitioner to approach the high court on the basis of the accountability court repot.

The apex court deposed of the petition after Hamza’s counsel withdrew the application. 

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