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November 10, 2018

NRO: SC rejects NAB, govt replies

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November 10, 2018

Ag Agencies

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan Friday expressed dissatisfaction over the replies submitted by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the federal government in a case pertaining to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

A two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsen and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah resumed hearing of objections on maintainability of a petition filed by the Lawyers Foundation for Justice President Feroz Shah Gilani urging recovery of losses incurred by the national exchequer due to the promulgation of the NRO. The court also inquired where the $200 billion reportedly stashed in Swiss banks have gone and who benefited from it.

During the hearing, the court decided to keep asset details submitted by former presidents Asif Ali Zardari and Pervez Musharraf confidential.

The petitioner had made Musharraf, Zardari and former attorney general Malik Qayyum as respondents in his petition. The petitioner had contended that Musharraf subverted the Constitution by declaring emergency followed by the promulgation of the NRO, through which criminal and corruption cases against politicians were arbitrarily withdrawn.

On Friday, the court asked the petitioner to argue on the maintainability of the petition to which he submitted that he was not yet provided relevant documents as well as replies submitted by the respondents. He contended that in its judgment delivered in 2009, the Supreme Court had held that Pakistanis had shifted their money to Swiss banks. He alleged that Asif Ali Zardari had transferred his whole money to Swiss banks, adding that Zardari’s peer had also said that he had stashed $60 million in Swiss banks.

Justice Ijazul Ahsen asked the petitioner to provide solid evidence that could establish that the money was stolen.

“You have to convince the court as it’s a serious issue,” Justice Ijazul Ahsen said, adding that counsel for Asif Zardari had contended that his client had been acquitted in all cases. Justice Ijazul Ahsen further asked the petitioner to convince the court on the maintainability of the petition and justify as to whether after acquittal, the case can be re-opened under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

“Tell us about the whereabouts of the relevant documents as we will not decide the case on mere hearsay,” he further asked the petitioner.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan questioned if $60 million were stashed in Swiss accounts then how the money was acquired, where it went and who was the beneficiary.

Feroz Shah Gilani contended that the NAB should provide the court such documents as these documents were available with the Bureau.

Farooq H Naek, counsel for Zardari, submitted that his client had been acquitted in the case after a long trial, adding that he had been behind the bars for eight years but still the matter is not coming to an end. He contended that $60 million was not on the name of his client.

Justice Ijazul Ahsen observed that the court will decide the matter in accordance of law and Constitution.

Feroz Shah requested the court to provide him written replies submitted by the respondents, Zardari, Malik Qayyum and Musharraf after which he will argue on the question of maintainability of his petition.

Additional Attorney General Nayyar Rizvi submitted that the matter had already been decided, hence it would not be appropriate to re-open it.

Barrister Wasim Sajjad, counsel for Malik Qayyum, submitted that his client has already submitted his reply.

The court directed the federal government and NAB to file replies on the maintainability of the petition, while the petitioner was directed to come well prepared for his arguments on the maintainability of his petition. The court adjourned the hearing for three weeks.

In 2009, a 17-member larger bench of the apex court headed by former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry declared the NRO 2007 as a whole, particularly its sections 2, 6 and 7, as void ab initio being ultra vires and violative of articles 4, 8, 12, 13, 25, 62(f), 63(1)(h), 63(1)(p), 89, 175, 227 of the Constitution.