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November 30, 2017

Hudaibiya reference: Being PM, Nawaz prevented filing of appeal, NAB tells SC

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November 30, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday told the Supreme Court (SC) that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, being the chief executive of the federation in power, prevented the filing of an appeal before the apex court in the 17-year-old Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference against the Sharif family.
The anti-graft body through its Deputy Prosecutor Imranul Haq, filed in the Supreme Court a fresh leave to appeal under Article 185(3) of the Constitution against the Lahore High Court (LHC) judgment delivered on March 11, 2014, quashing the Rs1.2 million corruption reference against the Sharif family. The NAB, while justifying its delay in filing of an appeal against a three-year-old LHC order to quash references against the Sharif’s family, alleged that Nawaz Sharif, being the chief executive of the federation, prevented the filing of an appeal before the apex court.
It prayed that the delay in filing of this CPLA may kindly be condoned in the interest of justice, fair play and equity, adding that in continuation of the grounds earlier taken in the application for condoning delay, it should be also read as its part and parcel.
A three-member special bench of the apex court headed by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Qazi Faiz Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel the other day heard the appeal filed by NAB against the judgment of LHC delivered in 2014, quashing a reference against the Sharif family in Hudaibya Paper Mills case.
The court had asked special prosecutor NAB Imranul Haq to provide solid justification for merits of its appeal for reopening Hudaibya Paper Mills reference.
The court had noted that the issue of limitation would arise in the instant matter; hence, the NAB will have to satisfy the court about the merits of its appeal. Similarly, the court had also asked the NAB to convince it as to how Sharif family including Mian Nawaz Sharif and his brother Mian Nawaz Sharif had influenced the proceeding of the court for quashing Rs1.2 billion Hudaibya Paper Mills’s case.
“You have to convince us pertaining to the merit of this instant matter and how the respondents, the Sharif family, managed to influence the case by quashing the said reference; then, we will be able to proceed in the matter,” Justice Mushir Alam told the learned special prosecutor.
Justice Qazi Faiz Isa, another member of the bench, asked him as to why the anti-graft body did not proceed in nine months against the Sharif family in the Hudaibya Paper Mills case as he said that the reference according to the special prosecutor NAB was re-filed on March 27, 2000 whereas the Sharif family was sent in exile on December 10, 2000.
The court observed that as per NAB, the respondents were here on March 27, 2000 then why they were not proceeded against in the Hydaibya Paper Mills case. On court query, Imranul Haq submitted that the accused returned to the country on November 27, 2007.
NAB in its fresh appeal informed the court that the matter is before the SC and justice requires that the impugned judgment be scrutinised on the touchstone of precedents settled by this Court. “No doubt an accused is the favourite child of the law, but keeping in view the shape of scale of justice, the complaint is also not devoid of the justice of the court,” it said.
“That fault, loses control or non-serious working of the judges of the High Court should not damage the prosecution case on mere technical grounds”, the NAB contended.
It submitted that the conclusion reached by the LHC in quashing the reference and debarring the NAB from re-investigation are blatant misinterpretation of the law leading to grave miscarriage of justice, hence the delay is liable to be condoned and the petition deserves to be heard on its merits.
“The LHC has acted with material irregularity and discarded the law, contrary to the principles lay down by this Court hence on this ground as well the delay is liable to be condoned,” says the NAB fresh appeal.
The court was informed that in the instant reference the respondents have caused a loss of over Rs1 billion to the national exchequer, which aspect of the case should be dilated upon without being influence by mere technicality of delay.
“The respondent No. 2 prevented filing of the CPLA before this court and on this ground alone the delay is liable to be condoned and now when the CPLA is before the Supreme Court it should be decided on its merits without technically knocking out the petitioner on the ground of limitation”, the NAB maintained.
Ousted Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, his brother and Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Mian Muhammad Abbass Sharif (late), Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shehbaz, Mrs Shamim Akhtar and Mrs Sabiha Abbass, Mrs Mariam Safdar, Federation of Pakistan and Judge Accountability Court No IV Rawalpindi had been made in the appeal as respondents.