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Supreme Court turns down NAB’s request to adjourn Hudaibiya reopening case

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a request by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to adjourn the hearing of its petition seeking reopening of Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against the Sharif family for an indefinite period.

A bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, is hearing the petition of the NAB challenging the Lahore High Court’s verdict, quashing Rs1.2 billion Hudaibiya corruption reference against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and members of his family.

The NAB filed an application, requesting the court to adjourn today’s hearing until its new prosecutor general is appointed.

While dismissing the application, Justice Mushir observed that the ground on which adjournment of the case is being sought is baseless.

“Don’t make mockery of the court,” Justice Isa remarked. “Why shouldn’t not we initiate contempt of court proceedings against you,” he said while addressing NAB’s lawyer.

Justice Mushir clarified that the court has nothing to do with the appointment of the NAB prosecutor general and it would proceed with the case.

The prosecutor general post has been vacant since last month after the three-year tenure of Waqas Qadeer Dar ended.

At the previous hearing, the bench directed the NAB prosecutor to produce entire record of the case, details about the public offices the accused named in the reference held, and the original complaint filed against them with the accountability bureau.

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 Hudaibiya Paper Mills case and set aside the impugned judgement.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Shamim Akhtar, mother of Nawaz, Shehbaz and late Abbas Sharif, Maryam Safdar, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shehbaz, Hudaibiya Paper Mills Ltd, the federal government and others have been named as respondents in the appeal.

According to the Hudaibiya reference, the Sharif family had been accused of setting up Hudaibiya Paper Mills Ltd to launder illegal money.

A joint investigation team set up to investigate the Sharif family’s offshore properties had recommended in its report that the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case 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 Hudaibiya Paper Mills as cover for money laundering during late 1990s.

Dar later retracted his statement and claimed that the statement was gleaned under duress.



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