New SC bench appointed to hear Hudaibiya Paper Mills case on Nov 28

supreme court of pakistan

(Haseeb Bhatti/Dawn)

The Supreme Court (SC) on Saturday ordered the constitution of a three-member special bench to hear a petition pertaining to the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case on November 28.

In an appeal, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has asked the apex court “in the interest of justice, fair play and equity” to set aside a 2014 judgement from the Lahore High Court (LHC) to shut the case.

Justice Musheer Alam will head the bench that will review the case’s merits. He will be joined by Justice Qazi Fa’iz Essa and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel.

The new bench had to be reconstituted after Justice Asif Saeed Khosa recused himself from hearing the case.

“I think the Registrar’s Office made a mistake by putting this case on my roster as I have already written 14 paragraphs on this matter in the April 20 Panama Papers verdict,” he had said at the time.

“I think the Registrar’s Office has not read my Panamagate verdict. In it, I even gave my ruling on the matter as far as Ishaq Dar is concerned,” he had added.

Recapping his verdict in the case, Justice Khosa had recalled that: “Ishaq Dar was an accused in the case, then he turned into an approver.”

“However, once the previous verdict in the case is going to be rendered void, Dar’s status as approver will also end.”

Sharif family in the crosshairs

Naming former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, their deceased brother Abbas Sharif and five other family members as respondents, NAB has urged the court to declare the LHC judgement in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference void and illegal.

NAB has argued in its appeal that the referee judge who passed the judgement was not “competent” to set aside the findings of the high court, which had allowed NAB to re-initiate investigations against Sharif family members.

It further said that when the joint investigation team (JIT) formed to probe corruption allegations against the Sharif family in the Panamagate case had collected further incriminating evidence relating to Hudaibiya Paper Mills, “NAB cannot be debarred/restrained from proceeding further with the investigation.”

The JIT had in its report recommended that the Hudaibiya Paper Mills Case should be reopened.

Based on the recommendation, the SC in its July 28 verdict in the Panamagate case had asked the bureau to reopen the case while it filed references in other cases.

It had also questioned the past role of NAB in the affair, as it had seemingly favoured the Sharifs in the Hudaibya Paper Mills case by not challenging LHC’s decision to quash it till now.

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