Jan 022018

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected bail applications submitted by PPP leader Sharjeel Inam Memon and two others accused of corruption in contracting advertisements requisitioned by the Sindh government.

On November 25, the PPP leader had filed an appeal in the apex court, challenging the Sindh High Court's decision to reject his bail in a reference pertaining to the award of advertisements at 'exorbitant rates' through the abuse of his power when he was the provincial information minister.

In his appeal, Memon had said that he should be granted bail since the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) does not have any evidence against him and because his arrest was in contradiction with accountability laws.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa observed during Tuesday's proceedings that the appeal filed on behalf of Memon was regarding pre-arrest bail, whereas he had already been arrested. He asked Memon's counsel, Lateef Khosa, to approach the lower courts for his client's post-arrest bail instead.

Lateef Khosa, however, argued that NAB did not have the authority to arrest Memon in the first instance and the law could not be applied differently in different provinces.

"This is discriminatory behaviour," he argued, adding that others similarly accused "from Islamabad" were moving freely and visiting other countries for much bigger crimes while his client has been kept behind bars.

"My client should also be given relief just like Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar," Memon's counsel requested, making plain who he was referring to.

The counsel of Yousuf Kaboro, a deputy director of the Sindh Information Department and a co-accused in the case, argued that Kaboro — facing charges of signing the fraudulent advertising bills — only acted on the orders of the minister.

"The chairman NAB issues warrants on personal preferences," he alleged.

However, Justice Dost Mohammad said the country was facing its crises because of people like Kaboro.

"The country was a better place when public servants would refused illegal requests," he remarked.

The three-member bench subsequently rejected all appeals for relief.

Whisked away by NAB

A team from NAB had taken Memon into custody on Oct 23 after the Sindh High Court rejected his bail plea in a corruption case.

Following the rejection of his bail plea, Memon had holed up for hours in a courtroom to avoid arrest as his team explored their options, but could not stave off the inevitable for long.

As soon as Memon exited the building, surrounded in a tight cordon by his lawyers and supporters, he was nabbed by representatives of the accountability bureau and whisked away.

In a previous hearing of the case, NAB had said that it investigated corruption and corrupt practices in the award of advertisements against the law and at exorbitant rates to TV channels and FM radio stations for various awareness campaigns between July 2013 and June 2015. It said it had found that the accused acted with the connivance of each other, resulting in losses to the national exchequer.

The PPP leader is also facing a separate reference regarding illegal adjustment and consolidation of hundreds of acres of land in favour of a private housing project.

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