LAHORE                -             The Lahore High Court on Tuesday granted bail to former Director General of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Ahad Cheema in LDA City corruption case as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) did not oppose the request.

A bench of Lahore High Court Division consisting of Justice Muhammad Tariq Abbasi and Justice Chaudhry Mushtaq Ahmad heard the bail petitions.

The bail petitions had been filed by Ahad Cheema in three cases included Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme, LDA-City and assets beyond means. The court granted bail in the LDA city case but adjourned the hearing of Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme and assets beyond means cases until February 11.

The petitioner submitted before the court through Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar that he had been behind bars for the last 23 months and the NAB had failed to file reference against him.

However, no other staffer of the Lahore Development Authority except the petitioner had been arrested or implicated in the case, the counsel argued. He submitted that former Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is also accused in the housing scheme case, had already been granted bail by the court.

Ahad Cheema submits in the petition that no suspect could be kept behind bars for an indefinite period as a punishment until proven guilty. His counsel alleged mala fide of the NAB behind the cases and said his client was first apprehended in the housing scheme case and then three months later in another case.

On the side, a NAB prosecutor stated that LDA-City corruption case was being closed. He said that the apex court had given its verdict in the case and it had been assured that all affectees would be given plots. The prosecutor further submitted that the bureau does not have any objection if Ahad Cheema was given bail in the LDA City corruption case.

On the court query about delay in filing the references, the NAB official sought time to seek instructions from the bureau’s authorities.

As per the NAB allegations, he received illegal gratification in the form of 32 kanals of land from the owners of Paragon City Developers. He was given the land as a reward for awarding the contract of the housing project to its proxy firm Bismillah Engineering, it further alleges.

Mr Cheema is also accused of accumulating assets in and outside the country beyond known sources of his income. His illegal possessed assets are worth Rs600 million, as per the NAB.

The NAB prosecutor informed the court that the apex court had decided the case and the LDA City had assured all affected persons about allotment of plots.

On February 21, 2018, Mr Cheema was arrested on the charges of power abuse with criminal intent. He is also accused of illegally awarding Rs14 billion contracts of Ashiana-i-Iqbal housing scheme.