November 11, 2020
Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, Editor-in-Chief of Jang/GEO Group, has finally been released from jail after posting bail bonds of Rs10 million in a land case.
On November 9, the Supreme Court had granted bail to Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman in a reference by the National Accountability Bureau pertaining to plots purchased some 30 years ago. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on March 12 for “alleged illegal exemption of 54 plots (each measuring one kanal) in H-block of Lahore’s Johar Town phase-II allotted to him being the holder of general power of attorney on behalf of Hidayat Ali and Hikmat Ali by the then Punjab chief minister (Nawaz Sharif in 1986) in violation of the relevant laws/rules”.
The bail plea was heard by a three-member bench presided over by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Yahya Afridi. In its 3-page order issued on November 10, the Supreme Court directed Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman to submit a bond of Rs10 million with two sureties. The court also ordered that he will also have to surrender his passport to the trial court and the competent authority may place his name on the Exit Control List (ECL) to ensure he regularly attends the proceedings and faces the trial in the reference.
According to the order, Rehman was arrested on March 12 — almost three months before initiation of the reference. It is the case of the petitioner that the reference was filed against four persons, including the then chief minister of Punjab Nawaz Sharif who was a co-accused, against whom proceedings under Sections 87 and 88 of the Criminal Procedure Code are in progress. Two other co-accused — then director general of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Humayun Faiz Rasool and then director land development of the LDA Mian Bashir Ahmed — are still at large and no action has been taken against them.
The order said the petitioner’s counsel Mohammad Amjad Pervez argued that Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman had not conceded any concession against the law as many other persons were given similar treatment and the amount of excess land was already recovered in 1987 and no dues were outstanding.The claim that was being pressed was based on a subsequent change in the policy effected in 1992, the order said.
According to the order, Haider Ali, Additional Prosecutor General of the National Accountability Bureau, stated that in other cases of similar nature bail has been conceded securing deposit in cash the government dues and in this case also bail will not be opposed provided that the petitioner is put to the same condition. Ali further stated that Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman should be asked to surrender his passport and his name might be placed on the ECL to ensure that he continued to face the trial.