LAHORE - Raucous scenes were witnessed at the courthouse premises at Mall Road as a Lahore High Court (LHC) division bench on Wednesday granted interim bail to Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif in the assets beyond means and money laundering case till June 17.

This comes a day after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) failed to arrest the opposition leader during a raid at his residence in Lahore.

The bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Tariq Abbasi and Justice Farooq Haider, while granting Shehbaz Sharif pre-arrest bail, questioned NAB on the procedure of arresting suspects.

Petitioner’s counsel Azam Nazir Tarar argued before the bench that the Bureau had arrested Shehbaz Sharuf on October 5, 2018 in Ashiana-e-Iqbal housing case and he remained in its custody for 63 days; despite the physical remand, the Bureau failed to prove anything against his client.

He further argued that now the Bureau had launched new investigations against his client on charges of assets beyond means and money laundering. He submitted that although all relevant record had been given to the Bureau, it wanted to arrest the petitioner without cause.

The fact that the NAB had summoned Shehbaz Sharif for June 2 whereas the arrest warrants were issued on May 28 reveals NAB’s intent, he added.

At this, the bench inquired from the NAB prosecutor that if arrest warrants were issued on May 28 then why the petitioner was summoned for June 2.

The NAB prosecutor stated that the Bureau issued arrest warrants after it received relevant material.

Subsequently, the bench, after hearing arguments of the parties, granted interim bail to Shehbaz Sharif till June 17. The bench also sought a reply from the Bureau by next date of hearing.

PML-N leaders including Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Rana Sanaullah,  Maryam Aurangzaib and others were present on the occasion along with party workers.

Speaking to the media after the hearing, PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that despite accusing Shehbaz Sharif of several times of corruption, NAB has not been able to prove a single allegation.

“The last resort for the NAB is accusations of assets beyond means, benami assets and money laundering.”

Party leader Ahsan Iqbal also criticized the government of directing NAB to harass the opposition, saying that instead of focusing on the locust attack that was ruining crops and leaving farmers without income, the government was focused on Sharif’s arrest.

Meanwhile Rana Sanaullah condemned the heavy deployment of police outside the high court premises, saying that seeking to keep a citizen from accessing his basic rights was a “complete violation of the law”.