On Thursday, in a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference to a 34-year-old “illegal land allocation” in his favour, which was allegedly manipulated by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Jang Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakilur Rahman and two others were indicted by an accounting court in Lahore.
Judge Asad Ali of the Accountability Court presided over the hearing in which two other defendants, Humayon Faiz Rasool, former director general of the Lahore Development Authority, and Mian Bashir Ahmad, former director of the land development department, were also present in court.
All three defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges, after which the court ordered NAB to summon its witnesses at the next hearing on 16 February to record their statements.
Rahman was arrested by NAB in March 2020 after failing to comply with their responses at a hearing on the case.
The reference to the NAB land allotment alleged that Rahman had illegally obtained an exemption in 1986 for 54 plots, each measuring one channel, located in Block-H, Johar Town. The allocation of the land was alleged to have been made in connivance with the then Chief Minister of Punjab, Nawaz Sharif, against the policy of exemption and monetary gain laws.
It further stated that the suspects had caused the national exchequer a loss of Rs143.53 million through the allocation of land in violation of the exemption policy.
After months in jail, Rahman was granted bail by the Supreme Court in November 2020, while PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, the fourth defendant in the case, was declared an absconder by the accountability court and in the same month, perpetual arrest warrants were issued for him.