LAHORE - A Division Bench of the Lahore High Court headed by Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry on Monday dismissed the bail petition of Sheikh Muhammad Afzal, owner of Haris Steel Mill and co-accused of Hamesh Khan in Rs 9 billion Bank of Punjab loan scam allegedly released to his business concern on bogus documents. Former federal minister for law Babar Awan appeared before the court to plead bail of Sheikh Afzal. Babar contended that his client has been languishing behind the bars for 19 months but trial has not been commenced till date despite the fact trail court had held at least 25 hearings. He said after the amendment in section 497 of CrPC through presidential ordinance, concession of bail could be extended to an accused if his trial is not commenced for a period of one year. He said his client was being punished for nothing. Barrister Masooma, counsel for Bank of Punjab, opposed the bail application and argued that BoP scam is the biggest fraud in the countrys history and that big fish are involved in that who now want to wriggle out of it anywise. She said law for concession of bail under section 497 CrPC is not applicable to NAB accused as such they could not be released on bail on the basis of this law. She said Sh Afzal is desperate accused as he had hurled threats on Advocate General of Punjab and weapons were also recovered from him inside jail premises. Massomas arguments annoyed Babar Awan and provoked him to say that BoP is not the biggest scandal. Without naming the accused persons, she said in the biggest bank fraud, Rs 76 billion were taken out of BoP. The Bench also comprising Justice Mazhar Iqbal Sidhu rejected bail plea after hearing arguments from both sides. It may be recalled that in November 2009 NAB arrested owner of Haris Steel Sheikh Afzal, co accused of Hamesh Khan and his son Haris Afzal from Kuala Lumpur and brought them to Pakistan. Sheikh Afzal is accused of drawing loans on fake identity cards. On September 27, 2007, the NAB had filed a reference in an accountability court against 12 people, including six officials of the Bank of Punjab and six other accused in Rs 9 billion fraud. After the reference was filed, name of the Hamesh was put on Exit Control List. However in July 2008, Hamesh fled from the country, despite his name on the ECL. The court provided him several opportunities to appear before it and assured him security, but he did not turn up. He was arrested in December 2009 in the US at Pakistans request to Interpol. Afterwards, the government took initiatives to bring him back.