ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is due to file a review petition today against the Supreme Court (SC) verdict that dismissed its appeal seeking re-investigation of the Rs1.2 billion Hudaibiya Paper Mills case.
A 40-page review petition has reportedly been drafted by special prosecutor Imran-ul-Haq in this regard. NAB has maintained in the petition that there is an apparent conflict between the views of the larger and the three-member bench, that dismissed the appeal. However, no appeal for the constitution of a larger bench will be made presently.
The legal team of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has decided to assist NAB’s team in this regard.
NAB had requested the apex court to reopen the case in light of the July 28 verdict passed by the SC’s five-judge larger bench in the Panama Papers case. The top court, however, rejected the bureau’s appeal, declaring it not maintainable.
NAB claimed that Nawaz Sharif, the then prime minister, and his family received more than Rs1 billion ‘through illegal and fraudulent means’ and that they were liable to be tried under anti-corruption laws in relation to the Hudaibiya Papers Mills.
In 2014, the LHC had quashed the reference concerning the Hudaibiya Papers Mills against the Sharif family, and the anti-graft watchdog did not challenge the LHC’s order at that time.
According to NAB documents, Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, his father Mian Sharif, brothers Shehbaz and Abbas Sharif, Abbas’s wife Sabiha, Sharif’s son Hussain and Shehbaz’s son Hamza had been accused of receiving the alleged ‘ill-gotten money’ in the case.
On Dec 15, a three-judge SC bench comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel rejected the NAB appeal against the LHC decision.
The court stated that the NAB lawyer had failed to satisfy the court why the case should be reopened.
The bench — which had been seeking new evidence — had asked the bureau not to ‘parrot’ the Panama Papers judgement but articulate its own reasons to convince the bench why the reference originally filed against the Sharifs in the year 2000 should be resurrected.
“You have to satisfy the court on the reasons for the delay in filing the appeal,” Justice Alam had told NAB’s lawyer as the hearing began.
The lawyer had told the court that there are holes in the high court’s decision and the appeal must be reopened for the sake of justice.
Justice Isa told the lawyer that the document on which the bureau has premised its case ─ the confession of former finance minister Ishaq Dar ─ has not been attached to the appeal for the reopening of the case.
“If we remove Dar’s statement, he will become an accused in the case, not a witness,” Justice Alam had observed, addressing the lawyer. “You have not named him as a party in the appeal.”
As the bench inquired when the charges against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif were framed, the lawyer responded that charges could not be framed as the accused was not in the country at the time.
“The case went on for years and no charges were framed,” Justice Isa had remarked.
The court had asked the lawyer to submit before the bench the orders from the last hearing of the case at the accountability court.
The lawyer had told the bench that due to the stay order issued by the Lahore High Court, the accountability court’s proceedings were halted.
Justice Miankhel had noted that no stay order was attached to the appeal filed before the apex court.
“This is all very interesting,” Justice Isa had remarked. “The reference was filed when former president Pervez Musharraf was in power. The NAB chairman was appointed by him. The case was filed two years later when the chairman gave his signature. NAB filed the reference and forgot about it.”