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An accountability court in Lahore has granted a permanent exemption to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif from appearing before the court in the Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme cases, Aaj News reported.

The PM had sought the exemption based on his national responsibilities. During the hearing on Monday, Judge Sajid Ali reserved his verdict, following arguments from both sides.

Appearing before the court, PM Shehbaz said that whenever the court had summoned him he had ensured his presence, as this was his duty as well as his responsibility. He had assured the court that he would follow the court’s order even if his application was rejected.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had opposed the PM's plea, saying that there were no solid reasons for his exemption.

The court has granted him the exemption and adjourned the hearing till July 5.

Court accepts pre-arrest bails of PM Shehbaz, son Hamza in money laundering case

NAB has accused Shehbaz of issuing a directive while being Punjab's chief minister for the construction of a drain in district Chiniot for the use of Ramzan Sugar Mills, which is owned by his sons Hamza and Suleman.

NAB has said Rs200 million was spent for this purpose from the public money.

It has also alleged that Shehbaz and other suspects caused a huge loss to the national exchequer by awarding the contract of the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme to a company without bidding.

Shehbaz was arrested in October 2018 in relation to the housing scheme case, and a few months later in the sugar mill case.

The Lahore High Court released him on bail in both cases on February 17, 2019.

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