ISLAMABAD -  Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday moved the Supreme Court, challenging the multiple references filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau in the light of the apex court verdict in the Panama Papers case.

The former premier sought court directives for the anti-graft body to file a single/consolidated reference against him.

In a petition through Khawaja Haris, Sharif requested the court to suspend the accountability court proceedings against him in the three references till the filing of a consolidated reference by the NAB regarding the alleged commission of an offence under Section 9 (a)(v) of NAO, 1999.

Three references —18/2017, 19/2017 and 20/2017 – have been filed against Sharif in Accountability Court No-1 in Islamabad. The Supreme Court has been requested to declare the multiple references against him in the accountability court repugnant to Section 9(a) (v) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

The ex-PM filed the petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution and made respondents the Federation through the Ministry of Law and Justice secretary, the NAB chairman, the accountability court, Hassan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, Maryam Nawaz and Capt (r) Muhammad Safdar.

Shairf requested the court to declare repugnant to articles 4, 9, 10-A, 13 and 25 of the Constitution the July 28 judgment in the Panama Papers case in which the NAB had been directed to file three references against the former premier. Haris contented Sharif under Section 9 (a)(v) of NAO, 1999, should be tried through a single reference.

The apex court was asked to declare that multiple trials on a single charge would prejudice the ex-PM’s fundamental rights, fair trial and protection against double punishment guaranteed under articles 4, 10-A and 13 of the Constitution.

The petition stated the filing of multiple references against an accused for each asset allegedly owned, possessed or acquired by him, disproportionate to his known sources of income, was repugnant to Section 9 (a)(v) of the NAO, 1999.

The separate trial of an accused for different properties or sets of properties alleged to be owned by him purportedly in terms of Section 9 (a)(v) of the NAO, 1999, was repugnant to fundamental rights, guaranteed under articles 4 and 10-A of the Constitution, the petition said.

The petitioner contended the filing of multiple references against him for the same offence exposed him to a double punishment which was repugnant to the fundamental right under Article 13 of the Constitution.

“The filing of multiple references in a case allegedly involving the acquisition of assets beyond means is unprecedented and violative of fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution,” the petitioner contended.

The petitioner further said separate trials for a single offence were contrary to the principles of justice and the procedure provided under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898.

Haris stated the review petitions filed by his client before the apex court had not specifically taken the ground that three separate references could not be filed against the ex-PM as the contents of the references were not in his knowledge. He said as the copies of the references had been provided to the petitioner, it had become crystal clear that the composite allegations against the petitioner in all the three references were actually tantamount to allegation of commission of one offence, therefore, the filing of the three separate references and three separate trials for commission of one offence would be in gross violation of Section 9 (a)(v) of the NAO, 1999 and against articles 4, 10-A and 25 of the Constitution.

Haris argued during the hearing of the review petitions against the 28th July judgment, the five-member bench had made it clear that they would make necessary clarifications and observations to completely ensure Sharif’s fair trial before the accountability court and his legal rights to contest the references would be fully protected

He said though a short order had been announced on September 15, 2017, the detailed order containing the observations and clarifications for the protection of the petitioner’s right to a fair trial had not so far been issued.

Haris stated the apex court had unlimited jurisdiction under the constitutional provisions and had the obligation to intervene at any stage and correct any judgment which was per incuriam.

In a judgment reported as Khalil-uz-Zaman versus Supreme Appellate Court (PLD 1994 SC 885), the august court had reversed the decision in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, Haris concluded.