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Money laundering case: Court summons Shehbaz tomorrow as FIA seeks cancellation of bail

Notice issued to PML-N president with warning that ex-parte action could be taken if he fails to turn up

A special court (Central-I) on Saturday summoned Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif to submit his reply to a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)’s plea, seeking cancellation of his bail in a money laundering case.

Judge Ijaz Hassan Awan passed the order while hearing the case.

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The judge refused to give relief to the FIA and observed that no order could be passed without hearing the other side.

However, the judge issued a notice to Shehbaz, who is also the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president, to ensure his presence before the court on Monday (tomorrow) and warned him of action if he failed to turn up. The judge also directed FIA officials to come up with arguments.

FIA officials, including Assistant Director and Investigation Officer Syed Ali Mardan, Assistant Director Zawar Ahmed and Inspector Shahid Ali, appeared before the court.

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Advocate Muhammad Usman Riaz Gill, the junior counsel of special prosecutor, and prosecutors Munaza Shaheen and Aqeel-ur-Rehman Khan also appeared to represent the state agency.

The government officials asked the court to review its March 25, 2022 order wherein Shehbaz was given exemption from personal appearance.

Judge Awan observed: “How could the orders be issued without hearing the other party.”

On this, the counsel for the FIA said that the courts had powers to issue an order if there was anything unlawful, and pleaded that they [the FIA officials] should also be heard.

The FIA official said that Shehbaz was “misusing” interim bail and the extension granted to him earlier.

“If you think that the extension in the exemption to Shehbaz Sharif from personal appearance before the court is wrong, you can approach the Lahore High Court,”, the judge remarked.

The FIA officials, with the written plea against the extension in the interim bail of the PML-N president, asked the court to review its previous order.

After hearing the arguments, the judge issued a short order and held that no order could be passed in the absence of the accused.

“Dismissal of bail petition which is not fixed for hearing today and fixed for 4-04-2022, therefore, without hearing the opposite party/accused it would not be appropriate to pass any final order on the said petition,” read the order carrying the signature of the judge concerned, who was hearing the money laundering case.

“So, notice to the accused/respondent Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif be issued in this petition and it be placed before this court along with pre-arrest bail petition already pending and fixed for 04.04.2022.”

However, the notice that was issued to Shehbaz clearly directed him to submit his reply and warned him of ex-parte action if he failed to turn up before the court on the given date.

The development took place a day before the National Assembly is set to vote on the no-confidence motion submitted by the joint opposition against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Shehbaz was the key person in this fight against the ruling party, especially the PM, as he presented the no-trust-resolution in the National Assembly earlier this week and read it out on the floor of the assembly.

The FIA had been making efforts to get some relief from the court seized with the hearing of the money laundering case against Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz. But it had so far failed to convince the court and get the required relief. The legal team of the accused had successfully countered the state agency, and thus, the due indictment was put off to another dates during the last couple of hearings.

Meanwhile, Minister for Information Chaudhry Fawad Hussain congratulated the nation on the acceptance of the application seeking cancellation of bail granted to Shehbaz.
In a tweet, he hoped that a decision would be made on Monday.

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