RAWALPINDI: The Accountability Court IV headed by Chaudhry Abdul Haq on Saturday once again issued notices to the former twice-elected prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and eight other members of their family and friends in three corruption references pending against them.
The notices were issued to them on the application of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for the reopening of the corruption references and the court directed NAB to ensure that the notices are served.
The court adjourned the reference of the state vs Hudaibia Paper Mills till September 15 while two other references, the Ittefaq Foundries and state vs Mian Muhammad Sharif references, commonly known as the Raiwind assets case, were adjourned till August 6.
Advocate Akram Sheikh represented the Sharif family in the Hudaibia Paper Mills reference while no one appeared in the two other references. The court directed the accused members of the Sharif family to file their representation in the two references by August 6.
In the State vs Hudaibia Paper Mills Ltd reference, Akram Sheikh Advocate argued that he has not been provided with the NAB’s application for the reopening of these references. The court then directed NAB to provide him with the copy of the application and the copy was then provided. The AC judge asked advocate Akram Sheikh to assist the court regarding the stay order issued by a bench of Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi.
Forwarding arguments in the state vs Hudaibia Papers Mills, Akram Sheikh said that these cases, after they were formed some 12 years ago, have continued to be adjourned sine die. So they lost their validity and effectiveness. There is not a single precedent in a criminal case for sine die adjournment, he argued. The court has also to see if it could summon the accused at the request of the prosecutor whereas an LHC bench has already issued stay order in these cases stopping the federation to proceed. As per law there is 30 days time for initiating trial proceedings in a corruption reference.
Akram Sheikh further argued before the court that these cases were formed on political basis for vengeance. On previous orders of the court, notices were served on the two accused only and those too were incomplete. We appeared before the court after receiving information through media. Akram Sheikh requested the court to dismiss NAB’s application.
NAB’s prosecutor Chaudhry Riaz argued before the court that the LHC issued stay orders stopping federation to proceed in these cases. The stay orders were not applicable to the NAB. The AC judge inquired the prosecutor if NAB was not an institution under the federation? The NAB prosecutor replied that the institution of NAB was formed to investigate corruption. He said that the Sharif family has been in exile after these cases were formed and then in 2007 there was National Reconciliation Ordinance. The sine die adjournment was granted to save the time of court. The NAB prosecutor said that Sharif brothers on one hand say that their cases were facing inordinate delay to decide and on the other hand want to close these cases. “Previously it was said that the references were not signed by the chairman NAB and now we got signatures of the chairman NAB on these cases,” the prosecutor added. After that the court put off hearing.
There were three corruption references pending against Nawaz Sharif and his other family members. In one corruption reference by the title of State versus Hudaibia Paper Mills (Pvt) Ltd, nine members of the Sharif family were accused of committing corruption amounting to Rs642.743 million.
As per NAB allegations the accused deposited ill-gotten money in the accounts opened in other persons’ names and used the money from these accounts to pay off loans of the “Sharif companies.”
Mian Muhammad Sharif, Nawaz Sharif, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Mian Abbas Sharif, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, Mrs Shamim Akhtar (mother of Nawaz Sharif), Mrs Sabiha Abbas, Mrs Maryam Safdar and former federal minister M Ishaq Dar were the accused in this reference. It is worth mentioning here that the accountability court IV had abated this reference to the extent of Mian Muhammad Sharif after his death.
Second corruption reference by the title of State versus Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif etc is of the Raiwind assets. Main allegation in this reference has been that the accused had acquired vast tracts of land upon which a number of palatial houses and mansions were constructed thereupon with pecuniary resources which appeared to be grossly disproportionate to their known sources of income. As per NAB allegations there involves an amount of Rs247.352 million. Apart from Mian Nawaz Sharif, his mother Shamim Akhtar was also an accused in this case.
In third corruption reference by the title of State versus Ittefaq Foundries etc Nawaz Sharif, his brother Abbas Sharif and Kamal Qureshi were allegedly involved in corruption amounting to Rs1,063 million.
The main allegation against the accused in this case was that M/s Ittefaq Foundries Ltd obtained cash finance from National Bank. As per NAB allegations the company wilfully defaulted to pay back the amount in 1994.
All these references were either filed or investigated in 1999-2000 at the Accountability Court at Attock at that time. The cases later on were shifted to Rawalpindi after the establishment of accountability courts at Rawalpindi.