LAHORE – The Lahore High Court on Wednesday sought reply from the federal government on a petition challenging the appointment of the son-in-law of Minister for Kashmir Affairs Manzoor Wattoo as vice chairman of the Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC).

The petitioners, through their counsel Javed Rashid, submitted that Shahzad Ali Khan had been elected as vice chairman of the PCCC on political grounds despite being ineligible for the post.

The petitioners pointed out that Shahzad had become controversial because he lacked knowhow and experience of the cotton industry. They requested the court to declare the appointment as illegal and unlawful because it is injustice with the eligible candidates.

Justice Aysha A Malik recorded initial arguments and admitted the petition for hearing. The court directed the federal government to submit a reply within two weeks.

PLEA DISPOSED OF: LHC Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial disposed of on Wednesday a petition challenging the expenditure incurred by the Punjab University on laptop distribution ceremony held on March 23 under the chairmanship of PML-N President Mian Nawaz Sharif.

A provincial law officer informed the court that the City District Government Lahore (CDGL) had deposited Rs8.7 million in the university’s account. The LHC chief justice recorded the law officer’s statement and disposed of the case.

Nazir Ahmad had filed the petition against the Punjab University vice chancellor for arranging the function allegedly to please Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif and PML-N President Mian Nawaz Sharif.

Advocate Aftab Ahmad Bajwa alleged that the vice chancellor spent Rs30 million for the ceremony, besides spending another Rs5.8 million on refreshment alone. He further alleged that the vice chancellor embezzled a huge amount allocated for the laptop distribution ceremony and urged the court to declare the impugned act of the respondent as a clear misuse of public resources.

REMAND EXTENDED: An-Anti Terrorism Court on Wednesday extended two-day physical remand of a man accused of taking pictures of judges’ portraits in the court room of LHC Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial.

On Wednesday, police produced the accused, Muhammad Saleem, before the court contending that investigation against the accused is in process and more time was needed for his physical remand. On this, the court extended remand of the accused with directions to produce him on the next date of hearing fixed on Friday (tomorrow) along with the investigation report until that date.

As per case details, security guards deputed at the court of LHC Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial held Muhammad Saleem who through his cell phone was taking pictures there during the course of hearing. Security guards stopped him but he did not care and continued using cell phone for taking pictures of judges’ portraits.

Finally, the security officials arrested him. They took him to the Anarkali Police Station and got registered a case against him under the Anti-Terrorism Act. However, the accused claimed himself as innocent and said he was in the court in connection with the case pertaining to Haj tour operators. He said he was a resident of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and running his business as a Haj tour operator.

SNGPL CASE: Gas theft was impossible without the connivance of culprits in the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL), but it had failed to take action against them, Justice Khalid Mehmood Khan of the Lahore High Court remarked on Wednesday.

“The SNGPL is arresting gas thieves but not taking action against its officials who help in stealing the national utility,” the judge further remarked while hearing a bail application filed by teashop owner Muhamamd Yaqoob wh has been booked by the Baghbanpur police over allegations of gas theft.

The accused, through his counsel, informed the court that he had not paid the gas bill in time, SNGPL but raiding teams incriminated him in a fake case of gas theft. Yaqoob requested for bail by contending that he had nothing to do with the allegations levelled against him by the SNGPL.

SNGPL’s counsel informed the court that groups were stealing gas from the main pipelines after damaging them. “They make holes in the main pipelines for the sake of connections and Yaqoob was also arrested red-handed by the department’s task force,” the counsel added.

On this, the court inquired from the SNGPL about the action being taken against its officials who supported gas thieves, but the counsel replied in negative. The court observed that gas was being stolen with the connivance of SNGPL officials but it takes action only against common people. The court granted bail to Muhammad Yaqoob against a surety bond of Rs50,000.