ISLAMABAD - Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on Thursday dismissed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s request to club the NAB references filed against him.

In pursuant to the Supreme Court 28 July verdict, the National Accountability Bureau had filed three references against Sharif and his children in the Accountability Court, Islamabad.

The first reference against former premier Sharif, his children Maryam, Hussain, Hassan Nawaz Sharif and Capt (r) Muhammad Safdar is related to Avenfield Apartments 16, 16-A, 17 and 17-A. In the second reference, Sharif along with Hussain and Hassan Nawaz is facing charges regarding Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment.

The third reference against Sharif along with Hussain Nawaz Sharif and Hassan Nawaz Sharif is related to Flagship Investments Limited, Hartstone Properties Limited, Que Holdings Limited, Quint Eaton Place 2 Limited, Quint Saloane Limited (formerly Quint Eaton Place Limited), Quaint Limited, Flagship Securities Limited, Quint Gloucester Place Limited, Quint Paddington Limited (formerly Rivates Estates Limited), Flagship Developments Limited, Alanna Services Limited (BVI), Lankin SA (BVI), Chadron Inc, Ansbacher Inc, Coomber Inc and Capital FZE (Dubai).

The chief justice heard the former premier’s plea against the order of the registrar office in his chamber while Khawaja Haris appeared on behalf of Sharif. The chief justice ruled the review petition on the Panama leaks verdict has already been dismissed, so it cannot be heard again under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

After the hearing, Haris, talking to media persons, said usually appeals are heard in the open court. He regretted the chief justice, instead of fixing the matter in the open court, heard it in his chamber.

Haris shared with The Nation that they have already exhausted all remedies against the order under which the directions for filing the three references have been issued. He said there were the Supreme Court’s own precedents which show the judgments declared per incuriam were heard under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. He said the present chief justice in judges’ pension case judgment has ruled: “If a judgment is per incuriam, no technicality can stay in the way of setting it aside and the limitations of review under articles 188 and 184(3) will not be applicable to such a case.”

He said in another petition filed after the dismissal of the review petition under Article 184(3), leave was granted by the bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar. He pointed out a lawyer recently got relief for his client in the second review. He said: “Refusal to even place the case before a bench is the judgment per incurium and the first of its kind.”

Last month, the SC registrar office rejected Sharif’s petition to club the NAB references . The accountability court has already turned down the former premier’s request to consolidate the three references . The AC judge in his order said, “The references consist of different changes while only two witnesses are common in the references and the petitioner wants the court to consolidate them for his own convenience.”

Sharif in his appeal against the registrar office’s objections had maintained that filing three separate references was illegal, against the law and the Constitution, besides being violative of his fundamental rights.

Sharif’s lawyer had contended that the charges levelled against his client were common in all the three references . “The references are related to different assets, but the court has the authority to continue with the proceedings after merging the references ,” he said, adding an accused could not be punished for a crime multiple times.

Haris had pleaded that while the three references could remain, a single trial should be held against the accused. “If they are found guilty after the trial of the central reference, one sentence should be announced.”

The Sharif’s counsel had also pointed out that nine and 13 witnesses have been named in the Flagship Investment Ltd reference and Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference, respectively.  He said six witnesses were common in both the references and three in the Avenfield flats reference. “If the same witness is allowed to testify in multiple references , he or she will know what questions the defence counsel is likely to ask and might alter his/her statements accordingly,” he argued.

 

 

CJP rejects Nawaz plea to club NAB references