From Abid Usman
LAHORE: An accountability court in Lahore granted on Wednesday the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) plea to close a two-decade-old inquiry against PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif over alleged illegal allotment of twelve plots.
Judge Jawadul Hassan announced this verdict after hearing arguments of the NAB prosecutor. The anti-corruption watchdog shelved the inquiry pending for the past 20 years for want of evidence. The prosecutor said all relevant record was completely gutted due to a fire engulfing the building of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA). There is no evidence to corroborate charges against Shehbaz Sharif, he added.
Moreover, the bureau said, two people, Mian Attaullah and Mian Raza Attauallah, named in the inquiry have passed away.
The former Punjab chief minister had been accused of allotting 12 plots to his favorite persons. Lahore NAB had initiated the inquiry against Shehbaz and others in 2000.Lahore Development Authority (LDA) acquired the land of Mozu Nawan Kot for Gulshan Ravi Society in 1978 and was to provide 10-marla plots in return. However, the bureau said, one kanal plots were given to favuorite persons against law. When NAB launched investigation, orders were issued for cancellation of plots.
On Tuesday, A Supreme Court bench dismissed a plea of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), seeking addition of opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif’s name in the exit control list (ECL). A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Mushir Alam heard the case.
The NAB had added Shehbaz Sharif’s name in the ECL while inquiring into assets beyond means case against him. The Lahore High Court (LHC) with an order removed his name from the ECL. “Travel ban on Shehbaz Sharif was unnecessary when the high court issued the order”, the court observed. “Now the case has made sufficient progress,” NAB prosecutor argued.
“The court has to look into the circumstances, when the high court issued its order,” Justice Muneeb Akhtar, a member of the bench, said.
“Shehbaz Sharif’s name surfaced in the case over suspicious bank transactions,” prosecutor said. He was accused of graft due to suspicious transactions,” the prosecutor further said. Justice Muneeb Akhtar remarked that suspicious bank transactions do not come within bounds of corruption.
“The court has interpreted the anti-money laundering law in Justice Faez Isa Case”, the court observed. “NAB has failed to read Justice Faez Isa Case verdict,” Justice Muneeb remarked.
“NAB has been authorized under the anti-money laundering law,” Prosecutor Jahanzeb Bharwana said. “We know the accountability court has jurisdiction,” Justice Muneeb Akhtar said.
“Shehbaz Sharif has been in jail presently,” NAB prosecutor said.