Islamabad: SC grants interim bail to Shahab
ISLAMABAD: Textiles Minister MakhdoomShahabuddin, declared an absconder by the Anti–Narcotics Force in the ephedrine scandal case, finally won an interim bail from the Supreme Court on Wednesday. A three-judge bench headed by Justice NasirulMulk granted him 13–day bail (till Sept 25) on submission of two surety bonds of Rs500,000 each. In his application for pre–arrest bail filed by his counsel Sardar Mohammad Ishaq, MrShahbuddin said he had been implicated on the basis of statements of approvers recorded on July 16, more than nine months after the registration of the case. He alleged that DrRasheedJuma, former director general of health, had allocated more than 6,500kg of ephedrine out of 9,000kg and converted the quota into local sale. On Sept 8, the ANF declared MrShahbuddin, a former health minister, as an absconder in its supplementary report submitted to the Control of Narcotics Substances court.
Earlier, he got a protected transitory bail for a week from the Peshawar High Court. He approached the Rawalpindi bench of Lahore High Court on Sept 3 for extension of the bail but the court turned down the request. In his petition, MrShahabuddin raised a number of questions and wondered how he could be involved in allocation, manufacture, distribution or sale of ephedrine substance when there was no proof of his involvement and whether he could be implicated for abetment after nine months without any cogent admissible and confidence-inspiring evidence.
Meanwhile, a different bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry hearing the ephedrine scam case was informed that a two-member team of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), affiliated to the UN, had visited the ANF office the other day and expressed serious concern over its state of affairs.
The team is investigating the pilferage of the chemical to Iran.
The court made it clear that it would not tolerate the slightest allegation of harassment to pharmaceutical companies and would take strict action. “It is not the object of the court through the present proceedings to destroy the pharmaceutical sector, the fourth largest industry of Pakistan,” the chief justice observed.
The court also took note of advertisements in which the pharmaceutical sector appealed to the chief justice to save and protect the industry.
ANF’s Regional Director Brig Faheem accused HanifAbbasi, the owner of Gray’s Pharma also an accused in the scandal, of harassing the investigating officer by erecting banners against the ANF outside his residence and across Rawalpindi.
He informed the court that cases had also been registered against seven pharmaceutical companies for their alleged involvement in the ephedrine scandal. They are: Syntex Pharmaceutical in Attock, Global Pharmaceutical in Islamabad, Genome Pharmaceutical in Hattar, Friends Pharmaceutical in Lahore, Gray’s Pharma in Islamabad, NeutroPharma in Lahore and Raymond Pharmaceutical in Lahore.
The court directed the ANF to carry out investigation in a transparent manner without causing harassment to any industry. The pharmaceutical companies have been asked not to intimidate the investigation officer.
The hearing was adjourned for October 2.