Justice Khosa recuses himself from Hudaibiya bench

It seems that the office has not read my verdict on Panama Leaks case said Justice Khosa

As the hearing began, Justice Khosa remarked that the case has been put in front of him due to the office mistake as he had already given verdict in the Panama Papers case.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court constituted to hear the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case stands disbanded after Justice Asif Saeed Khosa expressed his inability to hear the case.

Awami Muslim League (AML) Chief Sheikh Rasheed had submitted a petition in SC, stating that on July 21, amid hearing of the Panama Papers case, NAB had assured the court to submit reply in seven days on Hudaibiya case but it failed to do so within the mentioned time. Since he had suggested in the April 20 judgment in the Panama Papers that the Hudaibya Paper Mills case required to be re-investigated, thus he can not hear the appeal to this effect, he remarked. The three-member bench included Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel.

Justice Khosa said a request to form a new bench had been forwarded to the CJP.

Moved by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the appeal challenged the 2014 quashment of the Hudaibya Paper Mills reference by the Lahore High Court (LHC). However, he had refrained from issuing directions to NAB to file a fresh case because that could be construed as compromising the impartiality of the appellate court. In its petition, NAB has argued that fresh material unearthed by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) set up by the SC to investigate the Panama case necessitated reopening the Hudaibiya reference before the relevant accountability court. The Hudaibiya Paper Mills money laundering reference was initiated on the basis of an April 25, 2000 confessional statement of Ishaq Dar, wherein he admitted his role in laundering money to the tune of $14.86 million on behalf of the Sharifs through fictitious accounts in 1990s.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Shamim Akhtar, mother of Nawaz, Shahbaz and the late Abbas Sharif, Maryam Safdar, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz, Hudaibya Paper Mills Ltd, the federal government and others have been named as respondents in the appeal.

The quashment did not acquit Mr Dar, nor did it eliminate the possibility of his trial over the charges at any subsequent stage, the judge recalled, adding that once the reference was thrown out, the pardon granted to him by the NAB chairman ceased to hold the field.

If NAB manages to convince the Supreme Court to accept its appeal, it will mean resurrecting Reference No. 5 of 2000 and filing it before the accountability court concerned for a final decision.

However, the high court dismissed it in 2014 after Dar claimed that confessional statement was taken under duress.

He further said that he has ordered NAB to reopen the case.

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