LAHORE - Rejecting the NAB plea for physical remand, an accountability court here yesterday remanded PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif to judicial custody in Ashiyana-e-Iqbal Housing Project.

Shehbaz, who is Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly and former Punjab chief minister, was sent to Kot Lakhpat Jail and will be produced in court again on December 13.

After this development, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has decided to seek his bail on medical grounds. Party sources said his son Hamza Shehbaz was consulting his legal team and a bail petition would be moved in a day or two.

Earlier the opposition leader was brought to the court by NAB under very strict security. The PML-N workers and leaders were present outside the courtroom and on the road. They tried to push their way on and clashed with the law enforcement agencies.

During the hearing, National Accountability Bureau prosecutor pressed for handing Shehbaz to the bureau for another 15 days. His counsel Ajmad Pervez opposed the extension in his client’s NAB remand.

Accountability Court judge Syed Najamul Hassan rejected NAB plea and decided to send the ex-CM to jail on judicial custody.

Shehbaz and his son Hamza hugged each other in excitement upon hearing judge’s decision, as the judicial custody meant no more investigation at the Bureau’s regional office.

According to his party’s claims, the opposition leader was kept in solitary confinement at NAB office under untidy conditions despite reappearance of cancer symptoms in him. NAB however strongly rejects all such claims and dubs it propaganda to bring the investigation body under pressure.

Arguing before the court, advocate Amjad Pervez defended his client on the question of his income and said that his tax returns from 2011 to 2017 are available to explain each and everything.

He said the NAB in the earlier hearing had misstated the facts to secure extension in the remand of his client. He argued that the mention of gifts in the tax returns under tax laws is not mandatory.

The lawyer said gifts worth Rs200 million were given off by his client which were not beyond the known sources of income of his client. Moreover, withdrawal of money from one’s own account also does not constitute an offence and his client withdrew the money that could not be termed a crime.

He also denied any connection of his client with Ramzan Sugar Mills which is owned by his son and also that nowhere his client has been found spending more money than his resources. The counsel said the only crime of his client is that he is a politician who also served Punjab as chief minister.

During the course of proceedings the court inquired about the identity of one Masroor Anwar.

NAB prosecutor informed the court that Masroor is the personal employee of the Sharif family. However, advocate Amjad said that he was accountant of Ramzan Sugar Mills. He said Masroor’s name is also on the record and in the STR as well, besides other information relevant to him.

The counsel said NAB is holding back many things from the court. The court asked him to present the same if they were in his knowledge. Amjad expressed his ignorance about another person named Malik Maqsood.

But NAB on the other hand said that Maqsood is a person whose account had about Rs3.5 billion and the money came from the company of Hamza at a time Shehbaz was CM. NAB prosecutor said that all this suggests much and needs clarification.

NAB representative said Masroor Anwar and Accounts Officer of the Mills have also been called to join the investigations. The prosecutor also drew similarity between the Supreme Court case about bogus banks accounts and the one in hand.

On a court query, the NAB officer also told the court about one of Shehbaz Sharif’s spouses was also a shareholder in Ramzan Sugar Mills.

Shehbaz Sharif counsel in counterblast said every monetary transaction is on the record. He also objected to prosecution’s dragging the matter in other directions, saying that the matter at hand only relate to Ashayana Housing project wherein corruption of not a single penny by his client has been found out.

The court after hearing the parties sent Shehbaz Sharif to jail and required his production again on December 13.

Later Shehbaz was driven to Kot Lakhpat Jail amid tight security where he will be kept in a special cell.

Prior to hearing of the matter, a number of lawyers were restrained by the law enforcement agencies from going into the court room. Barricades were also placed near compound of the court to keep PML-N workers off.

The restrictions flared up both lawyers and Nawaz League supporters and the police had to baton charge them when they tried to push through the barricades. The police action led to injury to two PML-N workers and custody of some others who later on were reportedly set free.

PML-N City President Pervez Malik alleged that the police had manhandled and baton charged his party workers including women. He said three of the party workers have been arrested while some others were missing. The authorities had blocked the roads from MAO College to PGM Chowk by putting containers while deployment was carried out in sub lanes and other narrow thoroughfares around.

The police and ARF had also erected an iron fence at Secretariat Chowk and the situation remained very arduous for the commuters till long after the end of court proceedings.