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Top Story

September 12, 2017



Panama Papers case: Sharif family objects to three-judge bench

ISLAMABAD: The children of ousted prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Monday filed an application with the Supreme Court seeking a delay in the hearing of their review petitions against the Panama Papers case verdict.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ehsan, will today (Tuesday) take up the review petitions of Nawaz Sharif, his children and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz, sons Hussain and Hassan and son-in-law MNA Captain (retd) Safdar, through their counsel Salman Akram Raja, moved an application under Order XXXIII, Rule 6 of the Supreme Court Rules, 1980, praying that their review pleas be heard by a five-member bench, instead of three-member bench, and the hearing be delayed till the formation of the five-member bench.

They pleaded the court to hear the review pleas against the five-member bench verdict first.  They contended that since July 28 verdict that disqualified Nawaz Sharif as prime minister was final, and was signed and announced by a five-member bench, therefore, the review petitions should also be heard by a five-member bench instead of a three-member bench.

The application further stated that the same five-member bench or any other bench of the same size should be constituted to hear the review applications against the five-member bench verdict.

“In terms of legal and constitutional dispensation of the State of Pakistan, a Supreme Court bench of lesser strength cannot upset or pre-empt the decision of a larger bench," they contended.

The children of former premier reminded the court that they had filed two separate review petitions — one against the decision of the five-member bench and the other against the decision of the three-member bench, thus the application against the decision of the five-member bench should be heard first.

In their review petitions filed on August 25, the children and son-in-law of Nawaz Sharif had questioned the SC’s July 28 directions to supervise future proceedings in the trial court. The petition had contended that the Constitution did not confer upon the apex court the jurisdiction to superintend or oversee proceedings of the subordinate judiciary, adding that the only provision that conferred jurisdiction to superintend subordinate judiciary was Article 203 of the Constitution, under which only a high court could monitor the subordinate judiciary.

An application was also submitted with the review pleas, requesting the apex court to suspend final operation of the July 28 verdict in which the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was ordered to file corruption references against the petitioners,till the petitions were pending adjudication.

The review petitions contended that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) constituted to probe the Panama Papers scam was against the basic principles of justice. Earlier on Sep 10, Nawaz Sharif and his children had filed similar applications with the apex court raising objections to the Supreme Court’s decision to form a three-member bench to hear their review petitions against its July 28, 2017 verdict.

It was contended that when a five-member larger bench had announced and signed the July 28 verdict, the review petitions should also be fixed before the same bench. Similarly, Mian Nawaz Sharif in his application had submitted that the decision passed by the five-judge bench on July 28 should have been passed by a three-judge bench as Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmad’s jurisdiction had expired after their dissenting judgment on April 20.

Meanwhile, the registrar of Accountability Court, Islamabad, on Monday directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to fulfil the legal requirements pertaining to two corruption references against the Sharif family regarding the Avenfield London apartments and Flagship Investments as many mistakes were found in the documents.

The accountability court registrar office returned the said two references and directed NAB to resubmit it after correcting mistakes by September 14. The registrar said several mistakes were found in the references, as some of the pages were not numbered or incorrectly numbered and some necessary documents were not attached. 

The registrar’s office has so far vetted 8,000 pages while vetting the process of other documents is underway. The accountability court Judge, Muhammad Bashir, directed Registrar Ahmed Mushtaq Qureshi to complete the scrutiny process of the documents attached with these references and put these before the court on September 14.