ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court bench hearing NAB appeal for reopening of Hudaibiya Paper Mills case has ordered production of complete record of the case on December 11.

The three-judge bench, headed by Justice Mushir Alam and including Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, was hearing on Tuesday the matter wherein National Accountability Bureau seeks reinvestigation of Sharif family over allegation of corruption and money laundering.

The court observed that NAB cannot keep an accused on trial forever and torture him.

The bench expressed disappointment over poor performance of NAB Special Prosecutor Imran-ul-Haq, who failed to produce most of the documents required by the court.

The bench told him that they were not hearing Panama Papers case when the prosecutor in his arguments heavily relied on the Panama judgment and the findings of the Joint Investigation Team.

The court sought complete record of the Accountability Court, including details of proceedings, all the diaries up to date and statement of witnesses.

The court also told NAB official to produce on next hearing all the material and the application on the basis of which the reference was adjourned sine die.

The prosecutor was also told to furnish August 2008 application of NAB for revival of the reference. It also sought documentary evidence about the closing of case in the absence of Sharif family, and its reopening when they returned to Pakistan in November 2007.

“First we will see the merit of the documents and if required, we would see the merit of the reference,” Justice Mushir said.

The court noted, as it hears the case, the limitation issue would arise. “First we would like to understand in the way of limitation,” Justice Mushir said.

The court questioned whether Nawaz Sharif was a public officeholder at the time of closing the case and how he used influence for this purpose, as alleged by NAB in its application for reinvestigation.

The bench directed NAB prosecutor to provide specific dates in this regard, and tell if Nawaz was having authority to yield influence on the then NAB chairman when the Sharifs were sent to exile.

The court also inquired who was chairing NAB at that time, what was the date of chairman’s appointment, who appointed him and under what procedure he was appointed. “We need answers of all these questions, duly supported by documents,” Justice Faez said.

The NAB prosecutor sought four weeks to furnish all the documents. However, the bench granted him 12 days.

The court also asked the NAB to justify that the amount mentioned in the reference was public money.

Justice Faez said the figures mentioned in the reference seemed to be derived from the audit report of the company (Hudaibiya Mills).

The bench questioned on whose complaint the reference was filed against the Sharifs. Justice Faez inquired under what clause of Section 9 of National Accountability Ordinance 1999 the reference was filed. The prosecutor replied that it was Clause V.

Justice Qazi noted that it had not been mentioned in the reference that assets beyond known sources were acquired by Sharifs. When Imran replied that it must be in the investigation report, Justice Qazi asked him to show them investigative officer’s report, which he failed to produce.

The prosecutor drew bench’s ire for simply relying on Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa’s judgment in Panama leaks case and the JIT report.

Justice Khosa in the 192-page judgment in Panama leaks case had observed that there was an apparent flaw in the LHC judgment as the reference to the high court judge was on whether or not an observation could be made not regarding the reinvestigation, and not as to whether reinvestigation could be carried out.

He also said that the NAB did not challenge the LHC verdict before the SC , and incidentally, Nawaz Sharif was prime minister at the time. The judge also wrote in the judgment that the reference was quashed by then LHC because in the investigation the Sharifs had not been associated and Dar’s confessional statement had been made before a magistrate and not before the trial court.

Justice Qazi inquired where the original reference filed against Sharifs was. The prosecutor responded that it was not relevant as the appeal has been filed on the basis of JIT report. Justice Qazi remarked “for you it is not relevant, but for us it is important”.

On court’s asking, Imran said that JIT had given its findings regarding Hudaibiya Papers Mills in Volume 8 of its report. The bench then summoned the Volume 8.

NAB special prosecutor informed the court that reference against Nawaz Sharif and his family was quashed on technical basis. He said the Sharif family had filed petition in the Lahore High Court to quash the reference.

The prosecutor read the order of the Lahore High Court. Justice Qazi said according to it Sharifs had gone to Saudi Arabia in their own volition “but you said they were sent abroad”.

Were the Sharifs absconder or they were sent abroad, the bench inquired. The prosecutor said they had gone to Saudi Arabia under an agreement between Sharif family and the then Chief Executive Musharraf.

The court observed that in order to become chief executive of the country Pervez Musharraf manoeuvred it.

The Sharifs wanted to come back to the country. In September 2007 when Nawaz Sharif arrived at Islamabad Airport the whole day he was not allowed to disembark from his plane. Ultimately Sharif returned to Pakistan on 27-11-2007 on the order of the apex court.

After overthrow of Nawaz government the Sharifs were incarcerated and in NAB custody till they were sent abroad.

The court further noted that reference against the Sharifs was filed in March 2,000 but till 2008 nothing happened. The court questioned whether any witness was examined or the charges were framed against them.

The court noted that according to the LHC order NAB prosecutor general was getting adjournment on one pretext to other. The court observed that the Sharifs came back in the country on 27-11-2008 but NAB filed application for revival of the case on 21-08-2008.

On the court query, NAB special prosecutor informed that in August 2008 Asif Ali Zardari was the President of Pakistan.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa said according to the NAO, NAB has to conclude the case within 30 days but it remained pending for eight years. “You (NAB) can’t hold any accused on trial forever and torture him,” Justice Qazi remarked.

Justice Isa told NAB official to “show seriousness in the case”. “SC has constituted special bench. Is NAB still under pressure,” he asked.

NAB prosecutor said unfortunately the position is still same [that they are under pressure].

The case was adjourned until December 11.

The NAB in its application has made management of Hudaibiya Papers Mills Ltd, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, Muhammad Abbas Sharif, Hussain Nawaz, Humza Shahbaz, Shahmim Akhtar, Sabiha Abbas and Maryam Nawaz as respondents. It has also made federation, through Secretary Ministry of Law and Justice, and Judge of Rawalpindi Accountability Court No IV proforma respondents.

 

 

NAB can’t torture anyone through unending trial : SC