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SC dismissed Sheikh Rasheed petition against PM

13 February, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed for being not maintainable a petition filed by Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi over his alleged corruption in the award of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import contract.

A three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan declared the petition non-maintainable. The court observed that the petitioner was also not an aggrieved party in the case.

The court ruled that the petition did not fall in the ambit of Article 184 (3) of the constitution which empowers the court to enforce and protect the fundamental rights of the citizens. The court, however, observed that the case could be taken to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) which was an independent institution and an appropriate forum for such cases. Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that NAB could summon the respondents if it deemed fit.

The chief justice inquired that as to how the prime minister could be deemed not to be truthful and honest as per Article 62 of the constitution. He noted that the court did not want to repeat the history of Reko Diq, Karkey and Pakistan Steel Mills cases, adding that the petitioner should know what those decisions cost Pakistan at the global level.

In his preliminary arguments, Sardar Latif Khosa, senior counsel for petitioner Sheikh Rasheed, contended that the government was abusing its powers and committing serious violations of the court orders. He said there are vast reserves of natural gas within Pakistan which should have been exploited instead of importing natural gas from other countries. He requested the court to refer the petition to NAB for probe. The chief justice, however, rejected the request, asking him that he may approach the NAB by his own.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan noted that NAB can check the whole record for investigation into the alleged corruption in LNG contracts. “We don’t want to hear cases of political nature,” the chief justice maintained.

Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed had filed the petition under Article 184 (3) of the constitution through senior advocate Latif Khosa. The petitioner had requested the court to order NAB to initiate investigation against Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who being federal minister for petroleum and natural resources, allegedly committed billions of dollars corruption in awarding contract for the import of LNG in 2015.

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