ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court Justice Asif Saeed Khosa excused himself on Monday from the three-member bench that was formed to hear the petition filed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the Lahore High Court’s decision to quash the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against the Sharif family.
As the court proceedings went underway, Justice Khosa observed that it could have been a likely mistake of the court office that the Hudaibiya case was put before him since he had already been part of the bench who had delivered the verdict in the Panama Papers case and it would thus be inappropriate for him to take up this case.
The bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel had been constituted on Friday to take up the case on Nov 13.
Consequently, the present bench stands dissolved and a new bench will have to be formed by the chief justice to take up the case.
The anti-graft institution had on Sept 20 filed an appeal in the SC against the decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) quashing the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against the Sharif family.
The petition had named ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Shehbaz’s son and MNA Hamza Shehbaz, among other family members, as respondents.
The NAB had pleaded the SC to dismiss the LHC’s decision to quash the case and order a reinvestigation into the scam as per the new evidence which surfaced in the Panama Papers case Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report.
In its July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case, the SC asked NAB to reopen the case as it filed other corruption references against the Sharif family and Ishaq Dar. The apex court had also criticised NAB for not challenging LHC’s decision to quash the case.
Hudaibiya Paper Mills case
The Hudaibiya Paper Mills money laundering reference was initiated on the basis of a confessional statement of Ishaq Dar on April 25, 2000, in which he had admitted to his role in laundering money to the tune of $14.86 million on behalf of the Sharifs through fictitious accounts. The witness was, however, pardoned by the then NAB chairman.
While Nawaz Sharif was not named in the interim reference filed in March 2000, in the final reference against the Hudaibya Paper Mills — approved by then NAB chairman Khalid Maqbool — the bureau had accused Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz, Shamim Akhtar, Sabiha Abbas and Maryam Nawaz.
The LHC had quashed the case in 2014 as the PML-N continued to claim that Dar’s statement was taken under duress.