SC to form new bench for Hudaibiya case after Justice Khosa’s recusal

SC to form new bench for Hudaibiya case after Justice Khosa’s recusal

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ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court Justice Asif Saeed Khosa recused himself on Monday from the three-member bench that was to hear the appeal of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the decision of the Lahore High Court quashing the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against the Sharif family.

As the hearing began, Justice Khosa remarked that it could be the fault of the court office that the case was put up in front of him, as he had already spoken his mind on the subject in the Panama Papers case and it would thus not be appropriate for him to adjudicate the case.

He observed further that he had written 14 paras on the Hudaibiya case in the April 20 judgment of the Panama case, adding that he had observed to reopen the case in his judgment and ordered NAB to reopen the case.

Recalling his judgment, Justice Khosa observed that Dar was an accused in the case, after which he became an approver.

“However, once the previous verdict in the case is going to be rendered void, Dar’s status as approver will also end,” the justice remarked further.

The bench, headed by Justice Khosa and comprising Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, was constituted on Friday.

It has now been disbanded and a new bench will be constituted by the chief justice.

During the hearing, the NAB prosecutor requested that the case should be taken up next week after the formation of a new bench.

NAB’s appeal

On September 20, NAB filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the LHC decision, naming former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his brothers Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and late Abbas Sharif, their mother Shamim Akhter, Shehbaz’s son and MNA Hamza Shehbaz, Nawaz’s daughter Maryam, and others as respondents.

The NAB has pleaded the Supreme Court to dismiss the LHC decision to quash the case and order a reinvestigation into the scam as per the new evidence which surfaced in the Panama case Joint Investigation Team report.

Hudaibiya Paper Mills case

The Hudaibiya Paper Mills was allegedly used as a cover by the Sharif family to launder money outside the country in the 1990s.

It was in relation to this case that the Sharif family’s trusted aide, Ishaq Dar, recorded a confessional statement on April 25, 2000 in front of a magistrate in Lahore accepting his role in laundering money.

On the basis of that confession, a reference was filed by the NAB in 2000 before an accountability court against the Hudabiya Paper Mills, three Sharif brothers, Dar and others.

Dar was not charged as he had become an approver in the case for the prosecution.

That reference was struck down by a referee judge of the Lahore High Court on March 11, 2014 in response to a writ petition filed in 2011 stating that Dar’s confession was coerced.

Dar had claimed that he had made the ‘confession’ in duress and disowned the statement.

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