LAHORE: On Wednesday, the Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly and leader of the PML-N Hamza Shahbaz was granted bail by the Lahore High Court (LHC) after 20 months behind bars. Hamza Shahbaz was arrested on June 11, 2019, in a case filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) regarding money laundering after 20 months behind bars.
A two-judge bench of the LHC ordered the jail authorities to release Hamza Shahbaz after the submission of bail bonds. The order came after the counsel for NAB completed the plaintiff’s arguments in the hearing today. LHC had directed that Hamza be released after submission of two bail bonds of Rs1m each.
The PML-N leader had filed a second petition before the court for post-arrest bail on merit. Additionally, grounds of hardship and inordinate delay in the trial proceedings were also cited as merit for the bail. Previously in January, the Supreme Court denied the petition for bail, directing the plaintiff to approach the LHC with fresh grounds for bail.
The petition filed through advocates Azam Nazir Tarar and Amjad Pervaiz stated that the charges by NAB were framed on Nov 11, 2020, after a period of “unconscionable delay” of 17 months after the arrest. It said the delay could not be attributed to the petitioner in any manner whatsoever. It argued that the petitioner was entitled to bail on this ground of delay alone without touching the merits of the case.
PML-N deputy secretary general Ataullah Tarar termed the decision a “victory”.