ISLAMABAD: Justice Asif Saeed Khosa on Monday recused himself from a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court constituted to hear an appeal of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) seeking reopening of the Hudaibya Paper Mills case against the Sharif family.
The bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan was to hear the case, but Justice Khosa recused himself from the bench and referred the matter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan for constituting another bench for the purpose.
He observed that the appeal has been wrongly fixed before him. Since he had suggested in the April 20 judgment in the Panama Papers that the Hudaibya Paper Mills case required to be re-investigated, thus he cannot hear the appeal to this effect, he remarked.
The NAB has challenged the Lahore High Court’s verdict, quashing the Rs1.2 billion Hudaibya corruption reference against the ruling family.
The Sharif family seemed to be unhappy with the NAB move seeking the reopening of the case which was put to rest on the orders of the Lahore High Court.
The ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) had reacted to the NAB appeal, with Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique terming it unjustified.
The NAB through its Prosecutor General Waqas Qadeer Dar had filed the appeal, pleading the top court to grant leave to appeal to examine the legality, propriety and vires of the 2014 LHC verdict quashing the Hudaibya Paper Mills case and set aside the impugned judgement.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Shamim Akhtar, mother of Nawaz, Shahbaz and the late Abbas Sharif, Maryam Safdar, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz, Hudaibya Paper Mills Ltd, the federal government and others have been named as respondents in the appeal.
According to the Hudaibya reference, the Sharif family had been accused of setting up Hudaibya Paper Mills Ltd to launder money.
A joint investigation team set up to investigate the Sharif family’s offshore properties had recommended in its report that the Hudaibya Paper Mills should be investigated afresh.
Subsequently, a Supreme Court bench hearing the Panama Papers case had asked the bureau to reopen the case.
The Musharraf government had launched an investigation against the Sharif family members back in 2000 for their alleged involvement in money-laundering.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who is a close aide and relative of the Sharifs, had given a confessional statement before a magistrate, alleging that Sharif brothers used the Hudaibya Paper Mills as cover for money laundering during the late 1990s.
Dar later retracted his statement and claimed that the statement was gleaned under duress.