–Justice Nisar says Sharif family was already given option to review verdict in Panama Papers case
–Nawaz’s lawyer says they were not expecting such a verdict from the CJP
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar on Thursday rejected ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s in-chamber appeal to merge three references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) into a single case.
The former premier had on Oct 13, approached the Supreme Court seeking an end to the multiple references against him and pleaded that they are combined into one.
During the hearing on Thursday, CJP Nisar maintained the objections raised by the registrar office. He remarked that the option to review the verdict was already provided to the Sharif family in the Panama Papers case. The SC registrar office has asked the petitioner to consult the forum concerned in this regard.
The appeal was filed by Advocate Khawaja Harris on behalf of Nawaz.
After the hearing, Khawaja Harris told reporters they were not expecting this decision, adding that such appeals are usually heard in open court.
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”.
Nawaz’s petition had also called upon the apex court to halt the accountability court proceedings of the three references against the Sharif family until a single reference is filed.
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.