In an important development, the Sindh High Court canned a petition about the post-arrest bail for PPP stalwart Khursheed Shah in assets beyond income case.
A two-member bench, including justices Shamsuddin Abbasi and Amjad Ali Sahito, said that they were analyzing and evaluating the things on fresh grounds of hardship and delay in the trial. The court observed that the other 17 accused were alleged to be close relatives/benamidar and front men of the petitioner as nominated by the NAB.
The NAB special prosecutor referred to the two petitions filed against SHC Sukkar bench orders of declaring the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) Sukkur as sub-jail; pleading that he was leading a normal life in the hospital and was conducting meetings with government officials as well.
Bail cannot be granted on ground of hardship to Mr Shah, the bench observed
The bench replied that since those petitions were pending adjudication therefore they could not give any observations on such queries. The bench however expressed its surprise over Mr Shah’s stay at the hospital since November 09, 2019 without any declared life threatening disease and termed it an impact of political influence.
It further stated that Khursheed Shah’s bail petition could not be taken on the ground of hardship as he did not spend a single day inside the jail as compared to other ordinary accused persons who normally had to remain in the jail for long and face the music. The court also regretted that Mr Shah’s case was a question mark on the credibility of the system where an accused got special medical facilities on the basis of his political connections.
Khursheed Shah did not spend a single day in Jail since his judicial remand in 2019, the bench noted
The court observed that now it was the time to establish and implement standards for accountability at all levels without any discrimination so that a clean and corruption free society might be formulated. The bench concluded that considering all the given factors the court could not grant bail to the petitioner on the ground of hardship. It further stated that the delay in the trial was also due to the other co-accused who were either close relatives of Khursheed Shah or his front men. Therefore, the bench rejected the post arrest bail petition.
The bench however admitted that it was the constitutional right of the petitioner to have a fair and speedy trial therefore the trial court was instructed to accelerate the proceedings and wind up the case prefereably within six months without allowing any adjournment.
The bench told it loudly and clearly that the trial court should decide the case purely on merit without considering the current SHC observations (in this order). The SHC two-member bench also directed the office to convey this order at the earliest to the concerned accountability court for information and compliance.
PPP reacted severely on the order and termed it injustice to their senior politician. Senator and PPP vice president Sherry Rahman expressed her wonder on social media about the SHC order and asked why the bail was denied to the PPP leader when everybody had the right to bail as per the law. She also questioned why Syed Khursheed Shah was being treated differently from other accused persons.