LAHORE: A division bench of Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday extended until December 5 the protective bail granted to former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother former health minister Khawaja Salman Rafique a day before their appearance before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in Paragon City scam. The bench also directed NAB chairman to decide both brothers application for transfer of inquiry out of Lahore at earliest. The bench admonished the NAB prosecutor as he failed to submit a record to justify arrest warrants against both brothers. The bench directed to produce the record and apprise about allegations which led to issuance of arrest warrants against both applicants. Applicants counsel Abid Saqi appeared on behalf of expressed distrust in the accountability watchdog and its director general of Lahore Shahzad Salim. He said that NAB had no allegations and officials were only busy in doing character assassination and running a malicious media trial of the Khawaja brothers. He said that as part of this campaign on November 8, the NAB DG in complete disregard to the standard norms of the investigation process participated in various talk shows. He alleged that the director general went on to make partisan, partial and prejudicial statements pertaining to the investigations since pending and insisted upon his predisposed and jaundiced opinion. He asserted that the DG did not have the authority to make sweeping remarks at this juncture when the matter is still pending and particularly he is investing the same. He said that both brothers were facing maliciously motivated inquiries as no credible evidence could be collected against the applicants to attract the mischief of any offence under the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999. Abid Saqi said that NAB had adopted a practice of summoning people for a specific inquiry but arrested them in some other cases as was done in former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif’s case. NAB submitted that the chairman will decide the application for the transfer of inquires possibly within three days. The LHC earlier had granted interim bail to both on October 15 as NAB had initiated a corruption probe against them. The counsel of accused brothers pleaded that they had nothing to do with the Paragon City as they had already provided NAB with all information required by the interrogators but they were being summoned time and again with mala fide intension. He submitted that the NAB had lost its credibility and its independence had been compromised for irrelevant consideration. He claimed that since the illegal arrest of Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, it had become a matter of public knowledge that the officials of NAB had been abusing the process of law for political victimisation. He also alleged that NAB had become a stooge in the hands of incumbent government and resorted to victimisation of political opponents including the petitioners. He said that both the brothers had apprehensions that NAB would also arrest them on their appearance before its investigation team. He requested to grant them protective bail so that they could approach the court of competent jurisdiction in case the NAB issued their arrest warrants. A two-judge bench headed by Justice Tariq Abbasi heard the petition filed by the Khawaja brothers for pre-arrest bail. In the petition, the brothers said that they were not involved in any form of corruption. “We fully cooperated with NAB in the investigation and our pre-arrest bail should be approved,” the petition stated. The bench then asked the NAB lawyer whether documents pertaining to the arrest been given to the Khawaja brothers to which he replied, “The documents will be given when they are arrested.” Expressing anger over his response, the bench questioned, “Can those documents not even be shared with the court?” At this, the NAB lawyer said, “The documents related to the arrest are at the NAB office.” NAB officials say there are three inquiries ongoing against Khawaja Saad Rafique pertaining to the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme, Paragon Housing scam and corruption in Pakistan Railways. The accountability watchdog had also issued Saad Rafique’s arrest warrants earlier. Published in Daily Times, November 27th 2018.