Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman's bail plea hearing postponed till July 7

All evidence has been provided to NAB regarding the property leased 34 years ago, says MSR's lawyer, asking the court to release his client on bail

Web Desk
ang Geo Media Group owner Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Photo: File

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday postponed the bail hearing of Jang/Geo Media Group owner Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman's (MSR) till July 7.

A two-member bench of the LHC comprising Justice Shahbaz Rizvi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Nadeem were presiding over the hearing. 

During the hearing today, the court asked NAB whether it had submitted its response in the case to which the anti-graft body's lawyer said it had. 

MSR's lawyer told the court that according to NAB, the investigation against his client had been completed. The judge responded by saying that the copy of NAB's response was not attached to a file. 

"We will listen to the case when the copy [of NAB's response] is attached to the file," said the bench, following which the judges ordered the high court office to attach a copy of NAB's response to the file.  

The court inquired whether MSR had been sent on physical remand to jail to which his lawyer replied that he had been sent to jail on judicial remand. 

"What material against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been brought forth after April 7?" asked the court. 

Director Land Development Bashir Ahmad and DG Lahore Development Authority Humayun Faiz Rasool's statements were recorded by NAB officials, responded MSR's lawyer. 

NAB's special prosecutor said that the anti-graft body had also recorded statements of two LDA officers who were in service in 1986.

Justice Shahbaz inquired as to why only one copy of NAB's response had been presented to the court, to which the prosecutor replied that he had submitted four copies at the registrar's office. 

MSR's lawyer Amjad Pervez told the court that no evidence against his client was presented. He said that all documents had been provided to NAB, stating that nothing more could be obtained against his client. 

He urged the court to release MSR on bail. 

The court after hearing the arguments from both the sides postponed the hearing on the bail plea till July 7. 

Arrest on trumped-up charges

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.

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.