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SC summons Nawaz Sharif in shrine land case

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday summoned former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to appear in person to explain his position in a 1985 case regarding illegal construction of shops on shrine land in Pakpattan.

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, a bench of the apex court resumed hearing of the case as the former premier’s lawyer Munawar Iqbal submitted a statement on behalf of his client.

The counsel stated that his client has not signed the statement after which the bench rejected it.

The chief justice confronted the lawyer with his client’s reply, saying he has written that Mr Sharif had no knowledge of it nor had he passed such orders.

“Do you know what stance you are taking in your reply,” CJP Nisar said pointing to the lawyer. “You are talking about Nawaz Sharif. I know this man wouldn’t even know what this case is about,” he added.

He said if Nawaz Sharif, who was Punjab chief minister at that time, is not taking responsibility of the order, then the issue has been resolved as it now constitutes a reference.

The bench set the next hearing for December 4.

At the previous hearing, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, during the hearing, asked the lawyer, “Under which law, the shops were built on the shrine land?”

The lawyer responded that the court after 29 years stating that the notification was unconstitutional. The CJP reprimanded the counsel and said: “The court is responsible for supremacy of the Constitution. My benches will hear your cases,” he added.

“The people of Pakistan are the protectors of its Constitution and the Supreme Court is also answerable to the law and Constitution,” Justice Nisar said.

The bench was informed that 8,000 kanal land of the Pakpattan shrine belonging to the Auqaf department was sold as per a 1985 order. “However, later the Auqaf department declared it a charitable endowment and a court judgment has also been passed in this regard,” the counsel informed the court.

“Was permission given to construct stores on the Auqaf department’s land 29 years ago? And if yes, then under which law was the permission granted?” the CJP asked the counsel.

The chief justice also inquired about the Auqaf secretary in 1985 who issued the orders. “We will issue a notice to him as well,” he remarked. The additional advocate general Punjab informed the chief justice that then Auqaf secretary had passed away.

The defence counsel added that: “If you want to issue notices then issue them to all owners of such properties across Pakistan. There are 8,000 such people.” “We will issue notices to everyone,” Justice Nisar responded.

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