The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday termed the non-bailable arrest warrant issued for the arrest of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah “a joke” and deemed it illegal. The Rawalpindi bench of the LHC was hearing a petition filed by the interior minister seeking withdrawal of the arrest warrant against him.
Last week, the bench had suspended Sanaullah’s arrest warrant issued in an inquiry related to the purchase of plots in a housing society at a “throwaway price”.
Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan had also stopped the Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) from arresting the minister and raiding his house. The court sought the case record from ACE by October 17.
During the proceedings, the ACE informed the court that the FIR alleges that “Rana Sanaullah and his wife bought property, but his name is not mentioned”, adding that the reference to the PML-N leader had been made by mentioning him as a “provincial minister”.
Dismayed by the information received, the court remarked there was nothing against Sanaullah. “why don’t we send you to jail [instead]?” he said. “There have been thousands of provincial ministers.”
The court also ordered officials to explain how the alleged corruption became bribe. “Prove this … tell who bribed Sanaullah. What is the crime?”
The judge said that the civil judge issued illegal warrants without looking at the record. “Whether the allocation of plots is correct or not is the issue of the owner,” remarked the court. “You (ACE) tell us where the corruption is.”
“Who is the witness that said Sanaullah had taken a bribe?” inquired the court, warning that if it would not be satisfied by the ACE, the body’s director would be “sent to jail”. “This is a joke,” the judge remarked. “Whoever the institution pleases it deemed a criminal and issued an arrest warrant”.
The LHC adjourned the hearing until October 28 while ordering the anti-corruption body to appear with “full preparation” and also ordered the interior minister and DG anti-corruption to appear before the court.
“I have challenged this lousy attempt on part of the Punjab government and Imran Niazi,” Sanaullah said as he expressed hope to be avenged by the high court.
Speaking to the media outside the court, the interior minister said that when the Punjab government could not find anything else against us, they registered fake cases.
He also claimed that all this was done at the behest of the Punjab anti-corruption DG, adding that the case was in fact “three years old” and he (Sanaullah) was “not even named in it, nor am I in any way connected to it”. “Out of nowhere, a joint investigation team (JIT) was formed a month ago and the record was tampered with,” alleged Sanaullah. “The magistrate was misled by misrepresentation in the subordinate court,” he added, “my warrant was obtained by stating false facts, and they tried to defame me by releasing it to the media”.