LAHORE - The Lahore High Court Tuesday reserved verdict on a petition moved by Lahore Development Authority Director General Ahad Khan Cheema challenging his arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for his alleged role in Ashiyana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme’s scam.

A division bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najfi and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh reserved the verdict after the petitioner’s counsel Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar and NAB’s prosecutor concluded their arguments.

Cheema’s counsel had argued that the NAB arrested him by violating its own laws and without any justification. He said Cheema fully cooperated with the bureau and presented all information required in the summons. 

The counsel said that Ahad Khan Cheema was transferred from the office of LDA DG three years ago on April 28, 2016 and all the record whatsoever pertaining to the said housing project was never in his personal possession rather lied with the authority. The petitioner  prayed to the court to set aside decision of the NAB regarding his arrest and order it to release him.

However, the NAB’s prosecutor Rana Arif objected to the maintainability of the petition, arguing that the petitioner was in the bureau’s custody. He asked the court to dismiss the petition for being not maintainable as arrest could not be challenged during physical remand. The prosecutor also submitted that the NAB arrested him in accordance with the law and all the legal requirements had been fulfilled before his arrest.

He submitted that Cheema was issued summons more than once but he did not appear before the NAB after which he was arrested. He opposed the petition, pleading the court to set aside the same for not being maintainable.

However, the same bench turned down the petition of Shahid Shafiq Faridi, co-accused of Ahad Khan Cheema, seeking his release in the same case of Ashiyana-i-Iqbal Housing scheme’s scam. The bench announced the reserved verdict.

Shahid Shafiq Faridi, the owner of Bismillah Engineering, had moved the petition and argued that the NAB had no powers to arrest anybody mere on allegations. He said the provisions of NAB had been repealed. He said the NAB acted beyond its jurisdiction by arresting the petitioner.  He asked the court to order his release from the NAB’s custody.

Unverified votes case

The Lahore High Court reserved verdict on petition questioning alleged 29,000 fake votes of NA-120, the seat which fell vacant after disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister. Kalsoom Nawaz, the wife of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, won the seat of NA-120.  

However, her rival candidate PTI’s leader Dr. Yasmin Rashid challenged the results before the court, saying that the Election Commission did not provide her voters’ list and nor it took action against casting of 29,000 votes in the by-elections.

Justice Aminuddin Khan reserved the verdict. Advocate Anees Hashmi, the counsel of Dr. Yasmin Rashid, contended that  record of over 29000 votes of the constituency was not available with the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and unverified votes were cast in the by-polls. 

The counsel asked the court to direct the ECP to cancel the unverified votes and also set aside the results of the by-poll. Talking to the reporters, Dr. Yasmin Rashid said the respondents including ECP and PML-N had intentionally been delaying the proceedings. She said 29000 fake votes were cast in the by-election but despite clear order of the high court, the ECP did not provide her voters’ list. She said  the state machinery was also used in the by-election of the NA-120 to help Kalsoom win the elections. Instead of taking any action, the ECP played its role as silent spectator, she said. 

Dr. Yasmin also said the ECP had become a sub-wing of the PML-N as several petitions filed by the PTI before it remained unfruitful. She said the PTI would not let anyone rob the votes of people. Fair and free election was critical for a prosperous Pakistan, she added.