General

Hudaibiya case: SC dismisses NAB’s plea to adjourn proceedings

The Supreme Court dismissed on Monday the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) request to adjourn proceedings of the Hudaibiya Paper Mills till a new prosecutor general is appointed.
As the hearing of NAB’s appeal regarding the reopening of the Rs1.2 billion corruption case began, the three-member bench came down hard on NAB and stated that it would hear the case today. 
Justice Mushir Alam remarked that there is no ground for delaying the proceedings while Justice Qazi Faez Isa observed that the NAB should not mock the court.
NAB has appealed an earlier decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) directing it to quash the investigation into the case, which accuses former finance minister Ishaq Dar and prominent members of the Sharif family of money laundering.
On December 9, NAB requested the adjournment of proceedings till a new prosecutor general is appointed at the bureau. The office of NAB prosecutor has been lying vacant since Waqas Qadeer Dar retired in November.
The bureau also submitted a set of documents to the court including copies of the interim and final reference of the case along with Volume 8A of the Panama case Joint Investigation Team report, which also contains a copy of the Hudaibya reference.
Alongside, NAB also submitted the diary of the accountability court which heard the Hudaibya reference, as well as the procedure of appointment of the NAB chairperson and the list of all chairmen of the bureau appointed so far till its inception in 1999.
A timeline of Nawaz Sharif’s appointment as prime minister, including the period he was in exile after being ousted by former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf was also submitted. 
At the last hearing of the case November 28 hearing, the court had directed the bureau to produce all records of the case at the next hearing. 
NAB’s appeal
On September 20 this year, NAB filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the LHC’s 2014 decision, naming former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his brothers Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and late Abbas Sharif, their mother Shamim Akhter, Shehbaz’s son and MNA Hamza Shehbaz, Nawaz’s daughter Maryam, and others as respondents.
The NAB has pleaded the Supreme Court to dismiss the LHC decision to quash the case and order a reinvestigation into the scam as per the new evidence which surfaced in the Panama case Joint Investigation Team report.
Hudaibiya Paper Mills 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 in the case for the prosecution.
That reference was struck down by a referee judge of the Lahore High Court 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’ in duress and disowned the statement.