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August 29, 2019

Judge hearing Rana Sanaullah contraband case transferred

Top Story

August 29, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Law Ministry has repatriated a judge of the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) court who was hearing a contraband case against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader Rana Sanaullah.

According to a notification from the ministry dated August 26, the services of ANF court judge Masood Arshad have been repatriated to the Lahore High Court (LHC). The ANF court judge was hearing a case again Rana Sanaullah, who was arrested on July 1 after the ANF said it discovered a large stash of contraband in his vehicle.

Judge Masood Arshad resumed hearing of the case earlier on Wednesday, but following a short recess, he announced that his services had been repatriated. The judge said he received a WhatsApp message repatriating his services to the LHC, following which Rana Sanaullah’s lawyer said the case by the ANF was weak, which is why a break was taken during the hearing.

Judge Masood Arshad said that he is accountable to Almighty Allah and the decision would have been on merit regardless of it being against Sanaullah or someone else. The Law Ministry in its statement following the development in the case, denied sending a WhatsApp message to the judge. It said that no judge was ordered anything on a message.

In the notification, the Ministry of Law and Justice repatriated a few special courts' judges alleging that they were having serious integrity and impartiality issues. The repatriated judges were interestingly hearing high-profile cases linked to Maryam Nawaz, Shahbaz Sharif, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, Rana Sanaullah and cases list goes on.

This development came a week after Islamabad Accountability Court Judge Arshad Malik, who convicted ex-premier Nawaz Sharif in a corruption case, was repatriated to Punjab judiciary after the Supreme Court and Islamabad High Court (IHC) recommended an action against the said judge who according to Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa ashamed of thousands of honest judges through his controversial and immoral conduct.

"The said judge (Masood Arshad) has issues regarding his impartiality and integrity. It is therefore imperative that a judge administering the CNS Act, 1997 must only be impartial but should also be seen to be impartial. It is therefore, recommended that the matter may be placed before the chief justice Lahore High Court to immediately retrieve the services of above said judge (Masood Arshad) and nominate another judge," read the letter of the Ministry of Law written to the LHC registrar.

"Meanwhile, this ministry has directed the said judge to stop from working as judge special CNS (special anti-narcotics Lahore)," added the letter. In another letter, the Ministry of Law and Justice expressed concern over an alleged partiality of another judge Mushtaq Elahi who was appointed in Accountability Court Lahore three months back. The ministry wrote to the LHC registrar six days after his appointment saying, "The said judge (Mushtaq Elahi) has issues regarding his impartiality. It is imperative that a judge administering NAB laws must not only be impartial but should also be seen to be impartial. It is therefore requested that that the matter may be placed before the chief justice LHC to review the nomination of the said judge and nominate another judge for the post."

The Law Ministry further in its letter, exclusively available with this correspondent, stated that “meanwhile Mr Mushtaq Elahi may be stopped from working as judge accountability court. The matter may kindly be accorded top priority and a favourable response in this respect at the most earliest shall be highly appreciated, please”.

Judge Naeem Arshad was also repatriated on Wednesday. The said judge was hearing key cases of Sharif family. In last hearing, he extended remand of Maryam Nawaz Sharif and her cousin till September in Chaudhry Sugar Mills case. In July, Judge Naeem Arshad sent Hamza Shahbaz Sharif to jail on judicial remand in Ramazan Sugar Mills case in second week of July this year. Judge Naeem Arshad was also hearing the case of Shahbaz Sharif as well. But when this correspondent asked why was he repatriated after three months, officials of the Ministry of Law and Justice did not give any reason.

Naeem Arshad who was district and sessions judge Chakwal and was posted as judge accountability court-V Lahore on June 17, 2019, while Mushtaq Elahi was working as District and Sessions Judge/Special Judge Anti-Corruption, Gujranwala who was transferred as Judge Accountability Court-I Lahore on the same day. Another judge Ameer Muhammad Khan, who was OSD, Sessions Court Lahore, was posted as judge Accountability Court-IV, Lahore on June 17, 2019. The LHC chief justice had placed all these three judges’ services in public interest on deputation basis for accountability courts on June 18, 2019.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting said while talking to a private news channel that the Law Ministry takes decisions about appointment and transfer of judges by taking the concerned chief justices into confidence. She said these decisions are taken under the law and Constitution, not according to someone’s personal wish. She said the ANF court judge had already received his transfer letter four days ago and it was not appropriate for him to go to court, hear the case and then publicise it through WhatsApp.

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