Justice Khosa recuses himself from Hudaibiya Paper Mills reopening hearing

Pakistan       by Mahmood Idrees | Published

Pakistan by Mahmood Idrees | Published

"I may observe that the soundness of both the said reasons prevailing with the high court for quashing the relevant reference was quite suspect (sic)", Justice Khosa wrote in his judgment in the Panama Papers verdict.

The bench constituted by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday also consisted of Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Mazhar Alam Minakhel. While issuing directives to file reference against Ishaq Dar for possessing assets and funds beyond his known sources of income, the bench said in its order, "So is the case against Ishaq Dar, his assets increased 91 times from Rs 9.11 million to Rs 831.70 million within a short span of time".

The three-member that was to hear a petition filed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to re-open Hudaibiya Papers Mills case broke on Monday as Justice Asif Saeed Khosa excused himself from the bench hearing the plea. As the hearing began, Justice Khosa remarked that the case has been put in front of him due to the office mistake as he had already given verdict in the Panama Papers case.

The NAB through its Prosecutor General Waqas Qadeer Dar had filed the appeal, pleading the top court to grant leave to appeal to examine the legality, propriety and vires of the 2014 LHC verdict quashing the Hudaibya Paper Mills case and set aside the impugned judgement.

A trial of the Sharif family, including Nawaz, his children - Maryam, Hasan and Hussain Nawaz - and son-in-law Captain (rtd) Safdar, is being conducted by the accountability court in three graft references regarding London flats, Al-Azizia Steel Mills and other companies.

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The referee judge is not competent to set aside the finding of the judge of high court regarding re-investigation as has been done in this case, the NAB has contended. On September 20, NAB pleaded SC to dismiss Lahore High Court decision to end the Hudaibiya Paper Mills and reopen the case as new evidence had been exposed in the Panama case joint investigation team report. However, when it did not open the case, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, chief of Awami Muslim League, moved the apex court seeking its direction to the NAB to reopen the case.

The decision of closing Hudaibiya case was taken by NAB authorities on the grounds that earlier in October 2011, a Rawalpindi division bench of the LHC restrained the accountability court from proceeding in the matter after Nawaz Sharif and members of his family challenged the revival of the references and requested the court to quash the cases. The witness was, however, pardoned by the then NAB chairman.

Dar had claimed that he had made the "confession" in duress and disowned the statement.

LHC referee Justice Sardar Shamim had quashed the reference on March 11, 2014 on the grounds that if a re-investigation was allowed against the Sharif family, it would provide an opportunity to the investigators to pad up lacunas.

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