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Money laundering case: LHC dismisses Shehbaz, Hamza writ petition after withdrawal

The Lahore High Court (LHC) building. Image: File

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Thursday dismissed a writ petition of Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz after they withdrew their case challenging an inquiry of money laundering against them initiated by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

At the outset of the hearing, Chief Justice Ameer Bhatti, the head of the two member bench, inquired the petitioner’s lawyer how can this court quash FIA FIR and investigation when he did not raise any objection before the trial court? The Chief Justice reminded that the petitioners only challenged the FIA investigation and how can this court pass an order without looking into the NAB reference on similar charges. Shahbaz Sharif’s lawyer sought court’s permission to withdraw the petition and re-file it after making certain amendments in it. The court allowed the same and dismissed the petition as withdrawn.

Both father and the son are on pre-arrest bail in the case granted by a special court (offence in bank) last year.

The petitioner through Advocate Amjad Pervez stated that the proceedings in the inquiry against the petitioners are prompted by mala fide intention, ulterior motive and considerations extraneous to law.

They said registration of a series of cases in quick succession and repeated arrests of the petitioners in the past were classic examples of misuse of process of law enforcement agencies at the behest of the federal government to muffle the voice of the opposition.

They also questioned the jurisdiction of the FIA to register the impugned FIR as the agency did not have the jurisdiction to proceed in such matters. None of the suspects nominated in the FIR was a public servant in the service of the government or employee of any company/corporation.

They argued that that there was not even an allegation in the case of causing loss to the public exchequer or any bank or any other financial institution. The FIA had also failed to produce any evidence of any proceeds of crime which was a mandatory condition to allege an offence under the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010.

They further submitted that the entire proceedings had been initiated against the petitioners when they were already in judicial lockup in another by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on similar allegations.

They said the impugned FIR was registered after an inquiry for over a period of three months and the FIR did not spell out any admissible piece of evidence to suggest any role of the petitioners in the alleged offence.

The petitioners asked the court to quash the FIR registered by the FIA as being illegal and also restrain the respondents from taking any adverse action against them.

The petition has been fixed for hearing before the two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh.

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