ISLAMABAD - National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has restarted investigations against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference in compliance with the orders of the apex court.

A statement issued by NAB on Wednesday said: “It merits mentioning here that Ishaq Dar had become approver in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills Reference. After the quashment of the reference, investigations are being started against Ishaq Dar afresh as an accused.”

Earlier, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had directed the NAB in SC judgment on April 20 to proceed against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in connection with Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference case wherein he was not an accused person when the said reference was quashed by the LHC, which also barred reinvestigation and set aside Dar’s confessional statement.

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 said 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. “I may observe that the soundness of both the said reasons prevailing with the high court for quashing the relevant reference was quite suspect,” Justice Khosa wrote in his judgment.

However, he refrained from passing directions to NAB to file a fresh case. “Issuance of such a direction can have the effect of compromising the impartiality of the appellant court and clouding its neutrality. Thus I have restrained myself from issuing the direction prayed for,” says the order.

On Monday, Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa recused from a bench which was hearing NAB appeal to reopen Hudaibya Paper Mills case.

During the hearing Justice Khosa said: “I have written 14 paragraphs in my verdict on Hudaibya case.” “I have given direction against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also in my judgment that before becoming approver he was accused in that case. However after the quashment of reference his position as approver is no more,” he added.

On September 15, the NAB had filed a Civil Petition for Leave to Appeal (CPLA) in the Supreme Court for reopening of Hudaibiya Paper Mills case.

Mian Sharif, Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shehbaz and Ishaq Dar had been accused of receiving ill-gotten money in the case.

The apex court, during the hearing of Panama Papers case, had asked NAB’s former chairman Qamar Zama Chaudhry to file an appeal in the case but the chairman held his ground arguing that he had taken a right decision of not filing an appeal against the Sharifs.

However, after the Joint Investigation Team report, a change of hearts was observed in NAB and its high-ups decided to go for a time barred appeal in the Hudaibiya case because - according to the Bureau - new materials had surfaced in the case.

According to documents available with The Nation, NAB chairman had chaired a meeting on July 20 at NAB headquarters and discussed all options regarding filing of appeal in the Hudaibiya Mills case and also the JIT report in the Panama Papers case.

The DG told the meeting that a “number of new evidence have been collected in Hudaibiya Paper Mills case by the JIT which required further examination and evaluation.”

Earlier, the JIT had strongly recommended reopening of Hudaibiya Paper Mills case, observing that substantial evidence had strengthened the FIA and the NAB probes and established link between the investigations of the two departments.