The Lahore Special Court on Monday said that "no evidence of corruption, misuse of authority, and bribery" was so far found on record against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz, in the Rs 16 billion money laundering case.
The court further said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had "mala fide" intentions for arresting Hamza and PM Shehbaz, reported Geo News.
The order said that the FIA started investigating Hamza and PM Shehbaz when they were already in the NAB's custody. It noted that they were interrogated twice -- on December 18, 2022, and January 8, 2021.
Following this, the FIA did not interrogate them for the next five months. Once they were released from NAB's custody, the court said FIA asked them to appear before it.
"This shows that the prosecution wanted to arrest them again after their release, which shows its mal intent," the special court's order said.
The FIA had alleged that PM Shehbaz and his son Hamza were involved in corruption worth Rs 16 billion.
In a written order for confirming their pre-arrest bail, the court said the FIA wanted to arrest PM Shehbaz and CM Hamza after they secured bails in the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) cases.
The special court, which was hearing the money laundering case filed by the FIA against Shehbaz and Hamza, granted the two pre-arrest bail last week.
"...allegation about gratification, corrupt practice, abuse of official authority, kickbacks, and commission requires further probe during the trial as at this stage cogent evidence is not available," the order read.
The order said that the investigation office (IO), to date, has not mentioned in his diary that the petitioners were required to be in custody for further investigation, reported Geo News.
The investigation of the case has been completed and the charge sheet has also been submitted, therefore, the arrests are not required, the special court said, explaining its decision to grant the petitioners bail.
The order mentioned that the statements of the 64 people recorded in the case -- who had deposited the amounts -- relate to Rs 60.7 million and not Rs 16 billion -- as claimed by the FIA.
It added that in the statements of the 64 depositors, none mentioned the names of the prime minister and the chief minister. "Moreover, said statements do not spell out any bribery, kickbacks, or commission, etc."