Sharifs’ appeals referred to CJP for five-member bench formation


ISLAMABAD: Sept 12 (TNS): A Supreme Court bench on Tuesday referred a set of appeals filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his children to the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) to constitute a five-member larger bench.

The three-member bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, adjourned the matter after a brief hearing when the appellants’ counsel raised objections with regard to the three-judge bench hearing the appeals and requested it to constitute a larger bench.

The bench referred the matter to the chief justice to constitute the same bench that had delivered a damning verdict, removing former prime minister from office.

The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.

On July 28, the apex court had disqualified Nawaz Sharif for not being honest for concealing his salary from a Dubai-based company and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file references against him and his children on the basis of the report of a joint investigation team that probed their off-shore properties.

Sharif had filed a set of review petitions challenging the verdict handed down in the petitions filed by Imran Khan, Sheikh Rashid and Sirajul Haq, requesting the court to review its judgment.

Khawaja Harris, Sharif’s lawyer contended in petitions that the verdict in the Panamagate case was in violation of the Constitution and negated the facts. The court failed to take into consideration the true facts, thus, the disqualification verdict against his client is liable to be overturned, he submitted.

Besides, the counsel said, his client has been deprived of his right to fair trial by appointing a monitoring judge to oversee NAB proceedings against him.

His counsel contended that he had not hid his salary in his nomination papers for the 2013 polls – the ground on which he was disqualified for not being honest and trustworthy.

Under Article 188 of the Constitution, Sharif cannot be disqualified without a trial, petitions further said.

The former prime minister’s children – Hussain, Hassan and Maryam Nawaz and her spouse retired Capt Muhammad Safdar had also filed separate appeals seeking review of the verdict directing the national anti-graft watchdog to file references against them in connection with their off-shore properties.

The applicants through their counsel filed appeals, pleading the apex court to review its judgment and stay further implementation of it until their appeals are decided.

They contended that the Supreme Court could not direct NAB to file references against them and argued that the top court had become party to NAB proceedings and thus, depriving them of their right to fair trial guaranteed under the Constitution.

They submitted that the way Panama JIT carried out investigation did not conform to the principles of justice. Besides, the appointment of a SC judge to monitor NAB proceedings is in violation of the articles of the constitution that guarantee the right to fair trial under due process of law and right to life and dignity and protection.