Sharif moves SC against multiple graft references, says it exposes him to double punishment

ISLAMABAD: Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday moved a constitutional petition in the Supreme Court (SC) against multiple corruption references filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in light of the apex court’s orders in the Panama Papers case on July 28.

The petition filed by Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Harris under Article 184(3), also urges the top court to stop the accountability court’s proceedings in the three references until a single reference is filed against the accused.

According to the petition, multiple references against the accused, for each asset allegedly owned, possessed or acquired by him, disproportionate to his known sources of income, is in violation of Section 9 (a)(v) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

“Multiple references in a case allegedly involving acquisition of assets beyond means is unprecedented and, as such, is manifestly discriminatory and in violation of the petitioner’s fundamental rights as guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution,” the petition states, adding that filing of multiple references against an accused for the same alleged offence “exposes him to double punishment, which is repugnant to the accused person’s Fundamental Right under Article 13 of the Constitution”.

NAB had filed four corruption references against the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in Islamabad’s accountability court last month per the SC’s order.

The top court had last month dismissed review petitions filed by the deposed prime minister and his children against the Panama Papers verdict.

On Oct 13, the accountability court postponed the indictment of Sharif’s daughter Maryam and her husband Captain (r) Muhammad Safdar in a graft reference for six days after lawyers and supporters belonging to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) created a racket while trying to enter the courtroom.

In the previous hearing, the court had announced to separate the trials of Sharif’s sons– Hassan and Hussain, after they were declared proclaimed offenders following repeated no-show at the accountability court proceedings.

THE REFERENCES:

The references against the Sharif family pertain to the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, their London properties and over dozen offshore companies owned by the family.

NAB’s Rawalpindi branch prepared two references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, and the nearly dozen companies owned by the Sharif family.

Its Lahore branch prepared a reference on the Sharif family’s Avenfield apartments in London and another against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for owning assets beyond his known sources of income.

If convicted, the accused may face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets.

 



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