Tuesday May 12, 2020
An Accountability Court on Tuesday extended the judicial remand of Editor-in-Chief of the Jang Geo Media Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman till June 1.
MSR was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau on March 12 on trumped-up charges in a property case that he bought more than three decades ago from a private party.
Last month, the accountability court had sent him to jail on judicial remand till May 12.
In a separate hearing, the Lahore High Court on Monday directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to submit its response in a petition seeking the bail of Editor-in-Chief of Jang/Geo Media Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
The notice was issued by a two-member bench chaired by Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem on a petition filed by MSR's counsel.
During the hearing today, the judge asked MSR's lawyer Amjad Pervaiz the reason for filing the new application.
“What are your fresh grounds for filing this application?” the judge asked Pervaiz.
To this, the lawyer informed the court that MSR was on remand and there was no reason to keep him behind bars. He added that NAB does not want to get anything out of MSR and it was wrong to keep him in jail.
“NAB has stated that they had also summoned Nawaz Sharif, the then chief minister of Punjab,” Pervaiz told the court.
To this, the court asked what steps were taken to question Nawaz Sharif. The lawyer told the court that the former chief minister was yet to join the inquiry.
Upon hearing this, the court asked NAB to submit its response in the case by May 28 and inquired what they had found while keeping MSR in jail.
MSR was arrested by NAB on March 12 on trumped-up charges relating to property purchased more than three decades ago. A petition was filed shortly afterwards against the arrest.
An accountability court had then extended his physical remand, after which a separate petition was filed against the extension. The petition had argued that no reason was provided by the court for the extension in remand.
The original petition, filed by MSR’s wife Shahina Shakil, had stated that MSR had been cooperating with officials and the arrest was a flagrant violation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the accountability watchdog.
The petition had requested that the court declare the arrest and abuse of the NAB chairman's authority, as the arrest was made while the case was still in the process of verification.
The petition further argued that NAB had violated the 2019 businessmen policy introduced by the Government of Pakistan by arresting MSR. It further said that the extension in remand of MSR by the accountability court hearing the case should be declared null and void, along with the decision to arrest him.
According to a Jang Group spokesperson, the property was in fact bought from a private party 34 years ago and all evidence of this was given to NAB and legal requirements fulfilled, such as duty and taxes.
However, the petitions challenging the arrests were turned down, prompting outrage from those who have been following the case.
MSR's arrest has been slammed both locally and internationally as an attempt by a heavy-handed regime to suppress dissent and the freedom of speech. Most recently, renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky had lent his support to a petition calling for MSR's release from arbitrary detention and his right to a fair trial.