Top court admits Sharif family plea for larger bench

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Panamagate case

Zahid Chaudhary

Islamabad

The Supreme Court has formed a five-judge bench to hear the review petitions of Nawaz Sharif, his children, son-in-law and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar against the July 28 Panama Papers case verdict.
The apex court’s three-member bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ehsan, on Tuesday heard a plea submitted by the ex-prime minister’s children against the hearing of their review petition by a three-member bench instead of a five-judge bench.
During the course of hearing, the counsel of Nawaz’s children, Salman Akram Raja, pleaded the court to form a five-member bench to hear their review petitions. Justice Ejaz observed that the three-judge bench gave the majority verdict in the Panama Papers case and that the decision would not have been different had the three-judge bench given a verdict in the case. However, the bench accepted Raja’s plea and sent a request to the chief justice for formation of a five-judge bench.
Later in the day, the five-judge bench was announced. It will be headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and will include Justice Gulzar Ahmed as well as the three judges who were set to hear the case on Tuesday.
During the hearing, the counsel of Nawaz, Khawaja Harris, was also present and presented his arguments.
On Monday, Nawaz’s daughter Maryam, sons Hussain and Hasan, and son-in-law MNA Captain (r) Safdar had moved an application in the apex court requesting that their review pleas be heard by a five-member bench, instead of the three-member bench, and that the hearing be delayed till the formation of the five-member bench.