ISLAMABAD - A division bench (DB) of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday directed the trial court to complete the proceedings of the Mumbai attacks case within two months.

The IHC bench, comprising Justice Noor-ul-Haq N Qureshi and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, issued these directions while resuming the hearing of a petition moved by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), seeking cancellation of the bail granted to Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, operational commander of Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT), by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) of Islamabad in the Mumbai attacks case.

The IHC bench conducted the hearing of the bail cancellation plea moved by FIA official Khalid Qureshi. During the hearing, special prosecutors Muhammad Azhar Chaudhry and Abuzar Pirzada represented FIA while Advocate Raja Rizwan Abbasi and Sohail Warraich appeared before the court on behalf of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.

The FIA prosecutors argued the trial of the accused was near completion and 52 witnesses had recorded their statements while only 22 witnesses were to record their statements.

They sought cancellation of the bail granted to Zakiur Reheman Lakhvi, taking the plea that the accused could influence the witnesses and affect the evidences. The defence counsels contended none of the witnesses had recorded his statement against their client.

After hearing the arguments of both the sides, the court directed the anti-terrorism court to complete the trial of the accused within two months. The court also directed the defence counsels to ensure their presence on every hearing and warned the bail granted to the accused would be cancelled if his lawyers used delaying tactics.

The FIA, in it bail-cancellation petition, had mentioned that the accused was an influential person and if his bail was not revoked, he could influence the trial proceedings.

Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi is the operational chief of the banned militant outfit LeT and the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008.

ATC Judge Syed Kausar Abbas Zaidi has granted post-arrest bail to Lakhvi against the surety bonds worth Rs one million.

IHC SETS ASIDE OGRA CHIEF’S FORCED LEAVE

A Division Bench (DB) of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday permitted Chairman Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) to continue with his work and turned down federal government’s orders to send him on three months forced leave due to his alleged role in petroleum crisis in January this year.

The IHC DB comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamir Farooq dismissed the ICA and upheld the single bench’s decision, which on March 17 had set aside the federal government’s decision to send chairman OGRA on three months forced leave after which the federal government had filed the ICA in this regard.

The IHC dual bench in its judgment noted that the federal government has only to follow the recommendations of Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) that is holding inquiry into the crisis of petroleum products and federal government can only in the light of these recommendations could either suspend chairman OGRA or send him on forced leave.

Previously, the same IHC bench had restrained secretary cabinet division from using powers of chairman OGRA and had further directed FPSC to complete pending inquiry against chairman OGRA within one-month time.

An Additional Attorney General (AAG) representing federal government had contended before the court that chairman OGRA has neither been dismissed nor he has been suspended. He has been only sent on forced leave due to the reason that he may not affect the inquiry proceedings against him. The AAG had prayed to the court to set aside IHC single bench’s orders to ensure transparency in the inquiry proceedings before FPSC.

On the other hand, Saeed Ahmed Khan Advocate and Babar Sattar Advocate the counsel for chairman OGRA had argued that if his client was sent on forced leave on the pretext that an inquiry is pending against him with the FPSC then why member gas OGRA is working given the fact that an inquiry is also pending against him with the commission?

Earlier on March 17 Justice Noor-ul-Haq N Qureshi of the IHC had set aside the federal government decision to send chairman OGRA on forced leave but then the same IHC bench at the request of federal government had suspended its own order facilitating federal government to file an ICA in this matter.