An accountability court of Lahore on Monday granted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif exemption from personal appearance in Ashiana Housing and Ramzan Sugar Mills references.
The premier submitted a petition before the seeking exemption from personal appearance.
He said that whenever summoned, he appeared before the court as it was his duty and responsibility. “Now I have a huge responsibility on my shoulders to run the affairs of the country, so I request permanent exemption from personal appearance,” the prime minister added.
“I also have to meet the IMF delegation and international delegations. I have to fulfill my national responsibilities. If you reject my request for exemption, I will appear before this august court. I will always obey court orders,” he maintained.
The NAB opposed grant of exemption to PM Shehbaz.
Meanwhile, Shehbaz Sharif came to the rostrum. He handed over a booklet on development works carried out by him to the judge.
He told the court that he was accused of constructing a drain at a cost of Rs150 million. He said many such drains were constructed by him as a chief minister. He has no reason to indulge in corruption.
The NAB prosecutor complained to the judge that he did not have the booklet. On it, the judge gave the booklet to him and asked him to study it.
Shahbaz Sharif said that in the year 2014-15, a province should reduce the prices of sugarcane. I was asked to reduce the prices but I did not reduce the prices of sugarcane.
Later, the court allowed Shehbaz Sharif to leave and announced the verdict.
Meanwhile, co-accused former director-general of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Ahad Cheema also appeared before the court.
During the last hearing on June 11, PM Shehbaz informed the court that in the Ashiana case, it was alleged that “I had misused my authority. The Lahore High Court (LHC) has given a detailed verdict in the case.”
“The National Accountability Court (NAB) approached the Supreme Court for revocation of my bail and the then chief justice asked for the proof of corruption. The NAB failed to give any proof,” Shehbaz had claimed.
PM Shehbaz and CM Hamza were indicted in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case in 2020.
In its reference, the NAB had alleged that Shehbaz, then being the chief minister of Punjab, had issued a directive for the construction of a drain in Chiniot district, mainly for the use of Ramzan Sugar Mills, which is owned by his sons. It said Rs200 million was spent on the drain from the public money.
While the accountability bureau had also alleged that the then Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz and other suspects caused a huge loss to the national exchequer by awarding the contract of the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme to a company without bidding.