ISLAMABAD - A day after the Supreme Court constituted a three-member bench to take up review petitions of the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar against the July 28 judgment in the Panama Papers case, senior lawyer Khawaja Haris on Saturday filed an application on behalf of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, raising an objection to the hearing of his client’s review petitions by three judges instead of five.

He contended that a bench of lesser strength cannot ‘upset or pre-empt’ the decision of a larger bench of the apex court. “The decision given by the three judges was endorsed, adopted, owned and pronounced by the five-judge bench. Therefore, now the five-judge bench should consider the review petitions,” Haris said in the application.

On August 26, he filed a second review petition on behalf of the former prime minister ‘as a matter of abundant caution’ that the five-member bench did not have the jurisdiction to pass the final order in the Panama Papers case.

Khawaja Haris questioned “whether the final order passed by the five-member to be recalled in toto or only to the extent of its endorsement, adoption, ownership, and pronouncement by the two-judges of that bench, while the merit of the case is heard independently by the three-member bench. The final judgment of five judges is in the field. The judgment of the five-member bench, where they have signed, cannot be reviewed by three judges”.

In November last year, a five-member bench headed by former chief justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali started hearing PTI chief Imran Khan, JI chief Siraj-ul-Haq and AML chief Sheikh Rasheed’s petitions against former PM Sharif and his family for having offshore holdings in the light the Panama Papers Leaks.

In December last year, the bench decided to constitute a commission to probe the petitioners’ allegations but when Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief threatened to boycott the commission, despite the fact his counsel had submitted the terms of reference for the commission, the bench not only dropped the idea of constituting commission but also passed the order that a new bench, due to the retirement of Justice Jamali, would hear the case afresh.

After the retirement of ex-CJP Jamali, another five-member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa was formed. The bench heard the case for two months and announced its judgment on April 20. All the judges penned down their own judgments. Justice Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed had disqualified Sharif for inconsistencies in his statement. However, three judges – Justice Ejaz Afzal, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan ordered for the constitution of six-member Joint Investigation Team comprising officials from ISI, MI, SECP, NAB, FIA and the State Bank of Pakistan.

The JIT was given two months to collect evidence and investigate about the Sharif family’ assets within and outside Pakistan, and the allegations of corruption and money-laundering and it filed 10 volumes investigation report in the apex court with a request to keep Volume 10 confidential.

The three-member bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal heard the arguments of the petitioners Imran, Sirajul Haq and Sheikh Rasheed and the defendants, Sharif, his family, and Ishaq Dar’s counsel on the JIT report for five days and on July 28th, the verdict was announced.

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Though a three-member bench had heard the objections on the JIT report, a five-member bench passed the final verdict on Panama Leaks. The final judgment was rendered by the three-judge bench but it was endorsed, adopted and announced by the five-member bench.

“Justice Gulzar Ahmed, who was member of that bench, in his entire judgment discussed the jurisdiction of the apex court under Article 184(3) of Constitution and ordered for the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif under Article 62(1)(f) of Constitution but he did not order for filing of references against the Sharif family and Ishaq Dar,” shared a senior lawyer on the condition of anonymity.

Supreme Court Bar Association former president Kamran Murtaza said that under the Supreme Court rules the same bench, which had passed the judgment, should hear the review petition. “If one or two members of that bench are not available due to the retirement or any other reason, a bench with lesser strength could hear the review petitions,” he said.

Rule 8 of Supreme Court Rules 1980 says; “As far as practicable the application for review shall be posted before the same bench that delivered the judgment or order sought to be reviewed.”

“I fail to understand why a three-judge bench should hear Nawaz Sharif’s review petition, while the final judgment was passed by five judges. If not the larger bench, at least five-member bench should hear the review petitions in view of the gravity of the case,” Murtaza said.

SCBA former president Barrister Ali Zafar said that he could not understand why the review petitions have been fixed before a three-member bench instead of the five-member bench. He said the apex court should avoid controversy as it would create further confusion.

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bench not only dropped the idea of constituting commission but also passed the order that a new bench, due to the retirement of Justice Jamali, would hear the case afresh.

After the retirement of ex-CJP Jamali, another five-member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa was formed. The bench heard the case for two months and announced its judgment on April 20. All the judges penned down their own judgments. Justice Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed had disqualified Sharif for inconsistencies in his statement. However, three judges – Justice Ejaz Afzal, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan ordered for the constitution of six-member Joint Investigation Team comprising officials from ISI, MI, SECP, NAB, FIA and the State Bank of Pakistan.

The JIT was given two months to collect evidence and investigate about the Sharif family’ assets within and outside Pakistan, and the allegations of corruption and money-laundering and it filed 10 volumes investigation report in the apex court with a request to keep Volume 10 confidential.

The three-member bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal heard the arguments of the petitioners Imran, Sirajul Haq and Sheikh Rasheed and the defendants, Sharif, his family, and Ishaq Dar’s counsel on the JIT report for five days and on July 28th, the verdict was announced.

Though a three-member bench had heard the objections on the JIT report, a five-member bench passed the final verdict on Panama Leaks. The final judgment was rendered by the three-judge bench but it was endorsed, adopted and announced by the five-member bench.

“Justice Gulzar Ahmed, who was member of that bench, in his entire judgment discussed the jurisdiction of the apex court under Article 184(3) of Constitution and ordered for the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif under Article 62(1)(f) of Constitution but he did not order for filing of references against the Sharif family and Ishaq Dar,” shared a senior lawyer on the condition of anonymity.

Supreme Court Bar Association former president Kamran Murtaza said that under the Supreme Court rules the same bench, which had passed the judgment, should hear the review petition. “If one or two members of that bench are not available due to the retirement or any other reason, a bench with lesser strength could hear the review petitions,” he said.

Rule 8 of Supreme Court Rules 1980 says; “As far as practicable the application for review shall be posted before the same bench that delivered the judgment or order sought to be reviewed.”

“I fail to understand why a three-judge bench should hear Nawaz Sharif’s review petition, while the final judgment was passed by five judges. If not the larger bench, at least five-member bench should hear the review petitions in view of the gravity of the case,” Murtaza said.

SCBA former president Barrister Ali Zafar said that he could not understand why the review petitions have been fixed before a three-member bench instead of the five-member bench. He said the apex court should avoid controversy as it would create further confusion.