LAHORE  -  Appearance of former National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) chairperson Ayaz Niazi before an accountability court, request of Fawad Hassan Fawad, former principal secretary to PM, for a medical board to examine his health and opening of his salary account and bail matter of PTI MPA-elect Malik Nadeem Abbas Bara remained in the limelight last week.

All these matters were taken up by lower courts of the provincial capital. At the Lahore High Court, a three-member bench headed by Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza was constituted some time ago to hear a petition against the NAB law under which former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Safdar and son-in-law Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar were tried. The bench was dissolved last week as head of the bench refused to hear the case due to personal reasons. However, another petition was moved to the Lahore High Court against the same law.

Last week, the LHC also vacated a stay order and allowed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to issue notification of former foreign minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif as returned candidate from NA-73, Sialkot. Former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan also approached the Lahore High Court against the interim government's order to withdraw his security. Every single case led to interesting developments.In the NICL case, a multi-million matter of corruption that has been pending adjudication in the NAB court for almost a decade, there is no time frame when it will come to its logical end. However, police produced Ayaz Niazi, the main accused in case, before the NAB court after the court issued his arrest warrants for repeatedly ignoring notices for appearance. The court directed him to deposit Rs 5 million as surety bond to secure bail, and directed the respondents to come up with further arguments at the next hearing.

On Friday, a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar restrained the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from arresting former chairperson of the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL), Ayaz Khan Niazi, in this case.

A NAB prosecutor had urged the bench to cancel the bail granted earlier to the accused, saying that his arrest would be helpful for further investigation in the scandal.

The CJP criticised NAB, observing the anti-graft body picked up those who were in Pakistan, but left out the ones who were supposed to be taken into custody. The court will resume hearing on August 15. Another accountability court consisting of Judge Syed Najamul Hassan dismissed application moved by Fawad Hassan Fawad, former principal secretary to prime minister, seeking directions for constitution of a medical board for his check-up and opening of his salary accounts.

The court held that medical examination of the accused had already been done, therefore, no new medical board was required. The court directed the NAB DG to take care of medical needs of the accused during his custody. The court, however, put off further hearing till August 18 on plea for opening of salary accounts.

At an anti-terrorism court, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPA-elect Malik Nadeem Abbas Bara and seven others secured bail in case involving aerial firing and torture of policemen. The court allowed them bail against furnishing bail bonds of Rs50,000 each.

Hanjarwal police had booked the MPA-elect from PP-161, his brother and supporters on charges of carrying out aerial firing and torturing a police team. The police said the suspects attacked the Hanjarwal SHO and his driver with clubs and threatened them with consequences. The police officials were shifted to hospital with multiple injuries. Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had taken notice of the incident and ordered the Punjab Police inspector general to arrest all the suspects involved in firing and manhandling of policemen.

At sessions court, an additional district and sessions judge issued fresh notices to the caretaker Punjab chief minister, home minister and inspector general of Punjab Police on a petition moved by PML-N MPA-elect Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan, seeking action against police officials for damaging his election office on the day of arrival of Nawaz Sharif from London. The court directed the respondents to submit reply on Sept 3 after nobody appeared on behalf of the government and police.  In a separate case, a sessions court issued notice to Nawankot SHO on an application seeking registration of a case against former provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan.

Lawyer Azhar Siddique moved the application saying that Rana Sanaullah had termed participation in the Nawaz Sharif welcome rally a religious service. He said an application was submitted to the Nawankot SHO for registration of a case against Khan but he did not take any action. The judge sought a report from the SHO by Aug 31.

Last week, an LHC full bench, which was constituted to decide a petition challenging the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 and conviction of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members under the same law, was dissolved.

Senior lawyer A.K. Dogar had filed the petition assailing the conviction of the Sharifs besides challenging existence of the Ordinance.

An LHC division bench dismissed four intra court appeals (ICAs) filed against decisions of different single benches regarding recount of votes. The division bench headed by Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza dismissed all ICAs for being not maintainable.

The ECP had opposed the appeals with an argument that the decision by a single bench could not be assailed through an ICA in the high court. It said the Supreme Court was the appropriate forum to challenge the single bench’s decisions in the election matters. Sonia Raza, Ghazanfar Abbas, Raja Ashfaq Sarwar and other had filed the appeals.

Last week, the LHC barred the caretaker Punjab government and the police from withdrawing security from former provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan. Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza issued the order while hearing a petition filed by the former minister against withdrawal of his security.

Rana Sanaullah had moved the court through lawyer Azam Nazir Tarar and said that he had been provincial minister and member of the cabinet from 2008 to 2018. He said the petitioner had been facing life threats before and after the recent general elections.

The counsel said the government withdrew security from the petitioner making him vulnerable to any untoward incident. He asked the court to stop the government from withdrawing security from the petitioner.

After hearing initial arguments, the judge granted him (the petitioner) interim relief and sought replies from the government and the inspector general of Punjab Police by next week.

Another important development of the last week is that LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali on Saturday formed nine election tribunals to decide “election petitions” to be filed by candidates defeated in the 2018 general elections.

Four one-member tribunals will take up matters at the LHC principal seat. The tribunals consist of Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh, Justice Tariq Abbasi, Justice Shahid Jamil Khan and Justice Chaudhry Muhammad Iqbal. Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem, Justice Mujahid Mustaqeem Ahmed and Justice Tariq Iftikhar Ahmed would work as tribunals at Multan seat, Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti at Bahawalpur seat while Justice Mirza Waqas at Rawalpindi seat.