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Nawaz and family filed review petitions against Panama Papers case

26 August, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s children – Hassan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz and Maryam safdar, and his son-in-law Captain (r) Safdar on Friday filed review petitions challenging the Supreme Court’s July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case.

The review petitions filed under Article 188 of the constitution read with Order XXVI of the Supreme Court Rules 1980 pleaded the court to set aside its July 28 verdict and its implementation till a decision on their review petitions is made.
Through their review petitions, they also requested the court to set aside its directives to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file corruption references against them pertaining to the Avenfield properties in London and different offshore companies.

Hassan, Hussain, Maryam and Captain (r) Safdar have each filed two petitions- one challenging the Supreme Court’s five-judge bench verdict, and the other against the verdict of three-member Panama Papers implementation bench. They pleaded the court to order stay of the references being filed by NAB against them until their review petitions are heard and decided.
They contended that no order for filing of the references against them could have been made on the basis of the report submitted by the JIT on July 10, 2017. They also questioned the probe carried out by the six-member joint investigation team (JIT) on court orders, contending that it was ‘incomplete’ and contrary to the requisites of justice.

They said the JIT report cannot be considered to be an investigation in terms of the NAB Ordinance, 1999, which is a sine qua non for the filing of a reference before an accountability court. They said no order for the filing of a reference can be made prior to the conclusion of the investigation in terms of the NAB Ordinance, 1999. Consequently, they contended that the direction made by the apex court in its 28 July verdict, that references be filed against them is contrary to the scheme of the NAB Ordinance, 1999.

In their review pleas, they contended that the investigation did not merit filing of references against them, adding that their rights will be compromised by the Supreme Court’s findings that were based on the JIT report. They contended that the probe into Panama Papers case through JIT was even against the basic principles of justice. They said by passing directives in light of the JIT findings, the court has itself become a complainant.

They said the court also did not consider the objections raised and filed by them against the JIT report.They said the investigation carried out by the JIT suffers from bias which is manifest in the failure of the JIT to confront them with questions and materials that the JIT considered incriminating or important to its investigation.

They said the apex court may have powers to direct an agency to perform its functions and discharge its responsibilities in accordance with the law, but there is no law that vests it (SC) the authority to itself assume the functions of any such agency or institution.

Referring to the order of the apex court directing NAB to file references on the basis of the material collected and referred to by the JIT and such other material as may be available with the FIA and NAB or that may come before it pursuant to the Mutual Legal Assistance requests sent by the JIT to different jurisdictions, the petitioners said this direction tantamount to assumption of the authority of NAB, which again is not permissible in view of the provisions of Article 175 (2) of the constitution. "How the Supreme Court could order NAB to file a reference against Captain (r) Safdar when there is no accusation or proof against him for the purchase of London flats," they questioned.

The petitioners stated that July 28 judgment should have been given by a three-member bench since Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed's jurisdiction had expired after their dissenting judgment on April 20. They said the five-member bench did not have the authority to rule on the JIT report. They contended that three judges of the bench, who supervised implementation of the April 20 verdict and oversaw the investigations, should not have ruled on the JIT report.

They said nomination of Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan as 'monitoring judge' for the proceedings of NAB and accountability courts is against the fundamental rights of the petitioners. Besides, it violates Articles 4, 10-A, 25 and 175 of the constitution, the petitioners said, and contended that after appointment of 'monitoring judge', the accountability courts will not be able to proceed freely and independently. "The only provision that confers the jurisdiction to superintend the courts comprising subordinate judiciary is Article 203 of the constitution and this provision does not confer any such jurisdiction on the Supreme Court," the petitioners submitted.

The petitioners maintained that their basic rights have been infringed upon as their objections to the JIT's final probe report were not taken into consideration. They said JIT investigation was incomplete, thus it cannot be used as basis for filing NAB reference. They contended that July 28 order suffer from errors floating on the surface of the record, besides being per incurium, and are, therefore, liable to be reviewed.

This is the third batch of petitions seeking review of the SC verdict in Panama Papers case. On August 15, ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif filed a similar petition questioning his unceremonious removal under Article 62(1)(f) of the constitution.

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