SC resumes hearing of review petitions against July 28 verdict

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has resumed the hearing of review petitions filed by the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday. The petitions are directed against the SC decision taken in the Panama Papers case on July 28.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s legal counsel Khawaja Harris, is presenting his arguments before the five member bench led by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.Other members of the bench include  Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan.

The review petitions are being heard by the same bench that had announced the final verdict in the Panama Papers case on July 28 leading to Nawaz’s disqualification and filing of anti-corruption references against Sharif family members and Dar.

During Wednesday’s hearing, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s petitioned that the decision that was taken by the court should have been ruled by the same three-member bench since Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed’s had already given their verdict on April 20. The petitions filed by Nawaz’s children, Hassan, Hussain and Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (r) Safdar, as well as Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, argue on similar grounds.

The former PM’s legal counsel, Advocate Khawaja Harris, argued that the July 28 verdict should have been given by a three-member bench as Justice Khosa and Justice Ahmed had already given their decision in the 3-2 split verdict on April 20, dissenting from the majority opinion that called for further investigation against the Sharif family through a joint investigation team.

He argued that the two judges should not have signed the July 28 verdict.

To which, the judges observed the three-member bench was constituted to implement the April 20 verdict, which ceased to exist soon after the completion of an investigation by the JIT. Thus, the five-judge bench was to decide the case in light of the JIT report, they added.

All five judges unanimously disqualified Sharif, though the grounds on which he was disqualified may have been different, observed Justice Khosa. He said the two judges, who had given the dissenting note, didn’t add anything in the July 28 verdict.

Taking his arguments further, Harris said that his client was not given a fair trial since he was neither issued a show-cause notice nor was he given a chance to clarify his position.

Responding to the argument, Justice Ijaz said that the April 20 judgement was not challenged, hence, it was considered accepted. In reply, Harris stated that since it was minority judgment, hence, not challenged.

Harris further argued that it is questionable whether the court could direct National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to conduct an investigation, adding that Nawaz Sharif’s basic rights have been downplayed due to the appointment of a monitoring judge for the NAB investigation.

Responding to the petitioner’s legal counsel’s arguments, Justice Ejaz said that the accountability court will reach a conclusion of the investigation independently following which the investigation can be reviewed and that the petitioners will have a right to argue with the witnesses and JIT members, he added.

Justice Ejaz said that despite the JIT report receiving acclaim, it will be scrutinised in the trial court.

 



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