CJ to appoint new bench
A three member bench of the Supreme Court constituted to hear the reopening of reference in Hudabiya Paper Mills stood dissolved on Monday as Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, recused from hearing the case citing the reason that he has already written on the matter in April 20 Panama Papers judgment. Now the matter has been referred to the Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar who will constitute a new bench to hear the case.
Justice Khosa, who was appointed to head the bench, distanced himself from the case as soon as the court proceedings started and said, “I think the registrar’s office made a mistake by putting this case on my roster as I have already written 14 paragraphs on this matter in the April 20 Panama Papers verdict.” Justice Khosa said that he thinks that the registrar office has not read his Panama Papers Judgment. In it, I even gave my ruling on the matter as far as Ishaq Dar is concerned,” he added. Recalling his verdict in the case, Justice Khosa said, “Ishaq Dar was an accused in the case, then he turned into an approver.”
“However, once the previous verdict in the case is going to be rendered void, Dar’s status as approver will also end,” he added. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor asked the court that the case be heard next week. Approving the NAB prosecutor’s request, Justice Khosa sent an application to the chief justice asking that a new bench be created to hear the case.
NAB had appealed to the apex court against the Lahore High Court’s 2014 decision to acquit Nawaz Sharif and several members of his family in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case. In its appeal, the bureau had asked the apex court to set aside the 2014 judgement “in the interest of justice, fair play and equity”.
Naming Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, their deceased brother Abbas Sharif and five other family members as respondents, NAB had urged the court to declare the LHC judgment void and illegal.
NAB had argued in its appeal that the referee judge was not competent to set aside the findings of the high court, in which NAB had been allowed to re-initiate investigations against Sharif family members.
The JIT had in its report had recommended that the Hudaibiya Paper Mills Case should be reopened. Based on the recommendation, the SC in its July 28 verdict in the Panamagate case had asked the bureau to reopen the case while it filed references in other cases.