Published On: Thu, Sep 14th, 2017

Decision to disqualify Nawaz was unanimous, observes Supreme Court

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court, hearing review petitions filed by the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Wednesday, observed that the reasons to disqualify Nawaz Sharif as prime minister may have differed but the decision was unanimous.

The remarks were made by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who is heading a five-member bench hearing the review pleas against the apex court’s judgment in the Panama Papers case on July 28.

During the hearing, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh observed that the final Panama case verdict was to be decided by the same five-member bench which had given the April 20 judgment.

Justice Azmat remarked the apex court had formed an implementation bench but the decision was to be ultimately made by the five-member bench. The implementation bench was to work as per directions provided by the five-member bench, he observed.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, through his petition, has argued that the decision passed by the court on July 28 should have been passed by a three-member bench as Justice Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed’s jurisdiction had expired after their dissenting judgment on April 20. The same has been argued in petitions filed by Nawaz’s children, Hasan, Hussain and Maryam and son-in-law MNA Captain (retd) Safdar as well as Dar.

The counsel of Nawaz, Khawaja Harris, argued before the court that the final verdict [in the Panama Papers case] by the five-judge bench was not right as two honourable bench members had already given their verdict.

He said that there was no mention of a larger bench in the April 20 judgment and the decision should have been made by the same three-member bench which heard the JIT investigation.

Harris was presenting his arguments before a five-member bench which began hearing today the review petitions filed by the former prime minister, his family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

“My client was not given a fair trial. No show-cause notice was issued to him nor a chance to explain his position,” argued Harris.

In response, Justice Ijaz remarked that the judgment of the two judges [on April 20] was not challenged, thus it can be inferred that it was accepted. Harris responded that that was a minority judgment and was thus not challenged.

Harris contended that the question is whether the court could order the National Accountability Bureau to launch an investigation, adding that there is no legal precedent of appointment of a monitoring judge in such a case.

“Nawaz’s basic rights were usurped by appointing monitoring judge,” Harris said further.

Justice Ejaz said that the accountability court is free to reach its own decision. The investigation can be reviewed and that the petitioners will be allowed the opportunity to argue with the witnesses and JIT members, he said.

Responding to objections raised in the petitions about the commendations and appreciations of the JIT as “a gross transgression” of the former prime minister’s right to a fair trial, Justice Ejaz said that he had praised the JIT report but it will be scrutinised in the trial court.

At one point, Justice Khosa remarked that those who authored the judgment know what they wrote.

Justice Khosa observed that the content could be different but the result was the same. “Nawaz Sharif was disqualified in both judgments,” he remarked.

However, Harris maintained that a five-judge bench could not have given the July 28 judgment.

Nawaz’s counsel also argued that the matter of receiving or not receiving a salary was not part of the petition.

The hearing was then adjourned until tomorrow, September 14.

The counsel for Nawaz’s children and son-in-law, Salman Akram Raja, was also present in the courtroom and is expected to present his arguments tomorrow.

The Supreme Court had decided on Tuesday to the Sharifs’ plea that a five-judge bench is formed to hear the review petitions against the July 28 Panama Papers case verdict instead of an already-formed three-member bench.

The new bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, includes Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.

 

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