LAHORE  -   A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday granted bail to Punjab’s former senior minister and PTI leader Abdul Aleem Khan in offshore companies and assets beyond means case.

To avail the post-arrest bail, the bench headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi directed petitioner Abdul Aleem Khan to submit two surety bonds worth Rs 1 million.

During the last hearing on Monday, the bench had asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to establish a prima facie case against the petitioner who sought his post-arrest bail. For the purpose, the court had directed the NAB to bring any statements of witnesses examined by it, after the defence counsel Barrister Ali Zafar argued that the bureau had failed to establish a prima facie case against his client.

During yesterday’s proceedings, the NAB prosecutor, responding to a court query, submitted that Aleem Khan was imprisoned in jail on judicial remand. He read out the statement of witnesses in connection with the case. He said that the PTI leader did not show actual price of 900 kanal land. He further said that the land was showed less in worth.

The court then remarked that the petitioner had already mentioned these details in his assets, and asked, “Can you inform the court about the sources used for the purchase of the land?”

To the query, the NAB prosecutor responded that amounts were transferred to Aleem Khan’s accounts from foreign countries but he failed to justify them. He also said that these amounts were illegal, and that Aleem Khan’s parents did not have any sources in the country and they were government servants.

The NAB prosecutor further alleged that Aleem had failed to explain amount of Rs500 million sent in his accounts from abroad.

He submitted documents regarding Aleem Khan’s income and expenses. When the bench questioned, the NAB investigation officer replied that final report was being prepared and it would be sent to NAB chairman.

The defence counsel said that NAB report regarding income and expenses of his client was not signed by any NAB officer so he did not want to comment on it.

He submitted that the land referred by the accountability bureau was purchased within period of four years. If it wanted to prove that property’s worth was higher than it was showed, the bureau would have to submit evidence as case could not be made out on mere statements of the witnesses, the counsel said.

The counsel further argued that it was an 18-year-old case and no reference had been filed in it as yet whereas Abdul Aleem Khan never remained an absconder in the matter. He pleaded with the bench to grant bail to his client.

The court then asked about the investigation status and the prosecutor submitted that it was in progress and no time could be given for its completion.

After hearing the arguments of both the parties, the bench reserved the verdict and later announced only that Aleem Khan had been granted bail in the case.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Abdul Aleem Khan yesterday called for changes in the NAB laws to end its arbitrary powers of arrest even before start of the investigations.

“At the first stage, NAB should investigate the charges against the accused and then make arrest if necessary,” he said while talking to media persons at Punjab Assembly. 

Aleem made it clear that NAB had the right to arrest the accused if charges framed against him are proved after investigation.

“It is highly unfair to put a person in jail and then think of implicating him in certain cases. It is great injustice with me as well as with other persons undergoing NAB investigations at the moment,” he lamented.

He underlined the need of making changes in NAB laws to protect integrity of innocent people. Pleading not guilty, Aleem said he would quit politics if corruption of even a single penny proved against him. To a question, he said if somebody had conspired against him, he would leave this matter to God Almighty [to decide]. 

Meanwhile, PML-Q President Ch Shujaat Hussain and Speaker Punjab Assembly Ch Parvez Elahi have felicitated Abdul Aleem Khan on being granted bail by the NAB court.

Shujaat contacted Aleem and his wife on telephone whereas Parvez Elahi also contacted Abdul Aleem Khan on telephone and expressed good wishes for him.