LAHORE - The Lahore High Court last week granted bail to Zafar Iqbal Gondal, former chairman of Employees of Old-Age Benefits Institutions (EOBI), after an FIA lawyer failed to justify prolonged custody of the suspect.

Zafar, being former head of EOBI, has been facing charges of corruption and misuse of authority since 2013. The Federal Investigation Agency registered six cases against him in Islamabad, seven of them in Lahore and two in Karachi.

It is the fourth time that he has been released on bail.

Many a times, the FIA took him into custody and presented him in the court but every time he got bail. Yet, it is not clear what will be the impact of his bail on the case - that he allegedly kickbacks and spent Rs42 billion of EOBI. Nobody can presume how long this case will take to decide.

But this is not the only case people are hoping to get decided soon.

The Model Town incident, in which 14 people lost their lives and 100 others got severely injured more than two years ago, is another case of which judgment is awaited.

A judicial inquiry report has not been made public while the private complaint moved by Idara Minhajul Quran is also yet to be concluded. The ATC judge last week adjourned the proceedings of the private complaint till Tuesday - Feb 07, with directions to police to come up with the record of Mushtaq Sukhera’s joining as IGP in 2014.

In addition to this, during last week, the LHC also took up Bahauddin Zakariya University’s sub-campus case, auctioning of LPG, sale of substandard bottled water in local restaurants, increase in prices of petroleum products and amnesty scheme for traders.

A petition was also moved to the LHC challenging the government’s decision of detaining Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.

In BZU case, the court summoned the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman and a deputy director of the bureau who had investigated illegalities in establishment of Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan’s sub-campus in Lahore.

Heading a full bench, Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi observed that students deposited heavy fees to the university but they did not get the recognised degrees. “It is pathetic that the fraudsters were cheating public and the NAB did not wake up from slumber,” the judge remarked.

The BZU vice-chancellor presented complete record of the students who studied at the Lahore sub-campus. The HEC chairman stated before the court that a facilitation centre could be established at the office of University of Health Sciences in Lahore for the students’ enrolment.

The bench summoned the NAB chairman and the investigating officer of the BZU scam. Provincial Minister Zaeem Qadri also attended the proceedings as required by the bench. Hearing is due on Feb 7 (tomorrow).

On a petition against substandard bottled water, the LHC sought a reply from Punjab Food Authority and adjourned hearing for a week.

Barrister Zafarullah Khan of Watan Party had filed this petition in 2009 contending that that plastic bottles used for carrying water were made of polyethylene terephthalate, also known as Pet or Pete, had been linked with breast and uterine cancer. He highlighted that the use of plastic bottles for water also increased risk of miscarriage and decreased testosterone levels and interferes with body’s natural hormonal messaging system.

According to the petitioner, most of the companies supplying bottled water did not mention on their labels the source they get water from. The petitioner said in Pakistan, the people were drinking in fact tap water or “glorified” tap water in the name of bottled water. He prayed to the court to order the companies to got tested their bottled water from reliable laboratories before supplying for human consumption.

In a case against Amnesty scheme for traders, the federal government told the LHC that the Voluntary Tax Compliance Scheme (VTCS) was introduced to bring non filers in tax net. The law ministry submitted a written reply before the court on a petition that challenged the tax amnesty scheme.

After going through the report, Justice Shahid Jamil Khan directed both sides - petitioner and government - to come up with concluding arguments on March 2.

Sheraz Zaka advocate had filed the petition, contending that the tax amnesty scheme should be declared discriminatory as it was exclusively meant for traders. Lawyers, doctors and other professionals, he said, had been kept out of its domain.

The petitioner-lawyer further stated that the scheme was launched to provide a cushion to enable traders to whiten their black money.

During the week, the LHC also denied federal government permission to hold auction of approximately 400 MT (metric ton) Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). A single bench had stayed last week the auction of the LPG scheduled for Feb 2, and sought a report from secretary petroleum on alleged violation of rules in the process. Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) was holding the auction.

The stay order was passed on petition of an LPG marketing company that alleged that PPL had been auctioning the LPG beyond price fixed by the government and in sheer violation of the LPG Policy. The government filed an appeal against the order that was heard by a division bench headed by Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh on Wednesday.

The government’s counsel argued that there would be a shortage of LPG in the country if auction was not held on its schedule. He argued that the court could not order implementation of the LPG policy as it was yet to be notified. “The auction is a policy matter of the government and the court lacked jurisdiction to interfere in it,” the counsel added.

The bench however turned down the request and sought replies from ministry of petroleum and Ogra by Feb 7.

Meanwhile, the LHC set aside appointment of Justice (r) Asad Munir as administrator of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) and allowed the federation’s office bearers to function.

Faisal Saleh Hayat was elected the PFF president, however, the result was challenged after the Punjab Sports Board started intervening in the federation’s affairs. Hayat’s rival, Arshad Khan Lodhi, also challenged the election held in Changla Gali.

A single bench, comprising Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan, had appointed Justice (r) Asad Munir as PFF administrator to run its affairs till final decision of the litigation. The PFF had challenged the decision before a division bench through an intra court appeal (ICA).

The bench headed by Justice Ayesha A Malik set aside the appointment of Asad Munir and directed him to relinquish the charge immediately. The bench also sought details of the expenditures made during the tenure of the administrator.

During the week, a senior lawyer filed a habeas corpus petition in the LHC for the recovery of Jamatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed from alleged illegal detention of the Punjab government.

Sarfraz Hussain advocate filed the petition under section 491 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and contended that Hafiz Saeed has been detained on United Nations’ resolution of 2008.

However, he questioned, the resolution of the UN Security Council passed in 1948 for holding a referendum in the India held Kashmir has not been implemented so far.

The petitioner pleaded that the detention of Hafiz Saeed is liable to be declared void as there is no nexus with anti terrorism laws, which have been maneuvered by the government to curtail the liberty of a Pakistani citizen at the behest of foreign mission.

He prayed to the court to get the JuD chief recovered from the alleged illegal and improper detention and set him at liberty.

During the week, POL prices were also challenged in the LHC. These two petitions would hopefully be taken up during the ongoing week.