ISLAMABAD Dec 15 (TNS): A three-member Supreme Court bench dismissed on Friday National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’s appeal to reopen the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case.
The bench was headed by Justice Mushir Alam and comprised Justices Qazi Faez Isa and Mazhar Alam Miankhel.
Hearing the case since November 28, the court announced its judgment today in a majority decision.
The one-line order, read out by Justice Alam, states that NAB’s appeal to reopen the case is dismissed and a detailed verdict will be issued later.
The Rs1.2 billion Hudaibiya Paper Mills case, involving money laundering charges against the Sharif family, was initiated by NAB in 2000 but quashed by the Lahore High Court (LHC) in 2014. The NAB had appealed the LHC decision in the Supreme Court.
As the hearing began today, NAB counsel Imranul Haq stated that the LHC decision has flaws and sought the reopening of the Hudaibiya case so that legal responsibilities are fulfilled.
He informed the bench further that Senator Ishaq Dar, on whose ‘confession’ NAB initiated the reference in 2000, submitted an apology in court.
Justice Isa remarked that the statement on which the case is based has not been attached to the documents by NAB.
Similarly, Justice Alam observed that if Dar’s statement is taken out of the case, then his status will be that of an accused, adding that he [Dar] has not been made a respondent in the case.
“We are hearing the [Hudaibiya] appeal and not [the Hudaibiya] reference,” observed Justice Alam, and directed NAB to satisfy the court on its delay in filing the appeal.
Justice Isa observed that the case went on for years and the charges were not framed.
The NAB counsel also informed the bench regarding the procedure of its chairman’s appointment as well.
The NAB counsel then wrapped up his arguments and asked the court to issue notices to the respondents and allow reinvestigation of the case by quashing the LHC decision.
The court then went into a recess and announced its decision after a short while.
Moreover, during the hearing, Justice Isa remarked that despite the court’s order barring media analysis on the case, a private news channel brought a person on TV and attempted to influence the 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 for the prosecution.
That reference was struck down by a referee judge of the LHC 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’ under duress and disowned the statement.