LAHORE - The Lahore High Court (LHC) judge, who granted bail to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Rana Sanaullah Khan in a narcotics case, based his decision on “lapses in the prosecution’s case” and the argument that “guilt of the petitioner needs further probe”.

Justice Chaudhry Mushtaq Ahmed said this in a detailed judgment released here on Thursday.

The judge further pointed out that no recovery memo was prepared on site and that explanation for not conducting on-site proceedings was not plausible. Likewise, he said, the sample of only 20 grams of heroin was sent to chemical examiner, although some 15 kg of contraband had allegedly been recovered.

Furthermore, he said the fact that the investigating officer (IO) made no request to the court for physical remand of Sanaullah was another consideration on the basis of which the former Punjab law minister was allowed bail.

Additionally, the judge noted in the judgment, the other co-accused in the case were granted post-arrest bail by the trial court,

an order which was not appealed by the prosecution.

The judge also disposed of the ANF’s special prosecutor’s objections to the maintainability of the petition.

He read out details of the PML-N Punjab president’s arrest from the First Information Report (FIR) and other material available.

As per the written order, the 21-member raiding party was constituted after receiving information about the arrival of Sanaullah at Ravi Toll Plaza in Lahore. Sanaullah, along with his gunmen (five in number), were stopped at the toll plaza and all of them were disarmed by the raiding party.

Most strikingly, the LHC, in its order, said that at the place of alleged recovery of narcotics, no memo was prepared, rather the suspects and the case property were taken to the police station where the necessary documentation was conducted.

“It is mentioned in FIR that gunmen of the petitioner started grappling with members of raiding party in order to rescue the petitioner forcibly, but they were overpowered and disarmed,” the order states, adding: “Thereafter a suitcase was found lying in the vehicle and on weighing, it came to 21.5kg but said suitcase along with petitioner and his gunmen, as well as vehicles, was brought at Police Station, Regional Directorate ANF Lahore and proceedings were conducted at said police station, including preparation of recovering memos and sealed parcels etc.”

Additionally, the order noted that the sample parcel of 20 grams of the 15kg of ‘heroin’ was prepared for sending it to the office of the chemical examiner.

“Explanation furnished regarding non-preparation of documents at the place of recovery was that people passing in their vehicles started gathering at Ravi Toll Plaza, Lahore, due to which accused as well as case property along with vehicles were brought to police station,” the order states, adding that in the presence of the raiding party there was “hardly an occasion” not to conduct proceedings at the place of recovery.

“So [the] explanation furnished for not conducting proceedings at the spot was neither plausible nor convincing,” Justice Ahmad added.

The judge said when the accused were produced before the judge the next day, the (IO) made no request for their physical remand in order to grill them about the network allegedly operating under the supervision of the present petitioner (Sanaullah).

“[...] Indicates that the investigating agency was not interested in unearthing the activities of the petitioner regarding smuggling of narcotics,” the judge stated.

Regarding the claim that the case was registered because the petitioner was a vocal member of an opposition party, the judge said: “Though such argument at bail stage is not attached much weight for the reason that deeper appreciation at the stage of bail is not permissible nor desirable.

“However, in the context of [the] petitioner being a vocal political leader of [an] opposition party, this aspect of the case could not be ignored as political victimization in our country is an open secret.”

“Incarceration of accused before conviction in cases of doubtful nature is never approved by the courts,” Justice Ahmed stated.