SC rejects NAB’s appeal for reopening Hudaibiya case

A three-judge Supreme Court bench on Friday rejected the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) appeal to reopen the Rs1.2 billion Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference.
The bench comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel has been hearing the appeal against a 2014 decision of the Lahore High Court to quash the reference.
A written order will be issued later in the day, detailing the bench’s reasons for its decision. All three judges were present when the verdict was read.
Earlier in the day, the NAB lawyer had attempted one more time to convince the SC to allow reopening the Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference for the “sake of justice”.
During the previous hearings of the case, the bureau had struggled to satisfy the court on why the case should be reopened.
The bench seeking new evidence had asked the bureau not to ‘parrot’ the Panama Papers judgement and rather articulate its own reasons to convince the bench why the reference originally filed against the Sharifs in the year 2000 should be resurrected.
“You have to satisfy the court on the reasons for the delay in filing the appeal,” Justice Alam had told NAB’s lawyer as Friday’s hearing began.
The lawyer had told the court that there are holes in the high court’s decision and the appeal must be reopened for the sake of justice.
Justice Isa told the lawyer that the document on which the bureau has premised its case  the confession of former finance minister Ishaq Dar has not been attached to the appeal for the reopening of the case.
“If we remove Dar’s statement, he will become an accused in the case, not a witness,” Justice Alam had observed, addressing the lawyer. “You have not named him as a party in the appeal.”
As the bench inquired when the charges against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif were framed, the lawyer responded that charges could not be framed as the accused was not in the country at the time.
“The case went on for years and no charges were framed,” Justice Isa had remarked.
The court had asked the lawyer to submit before the bench the orders from the last hearing of the case at the accountability court.
The lawyer had told the bench that due to the stay order issued by the Lahore High Court, the accountability court’s proceedings were halted.
Justice Miankhel had noted that no stay order was attached to the appeal filed before the apex court.
“This is all very interesting,” Justice Isa had remarked. “The reference was filed when former president Pervez Musharraf was in power. The NAB chairman was appointed by him. The case was filed two years later when the chairman gave his signature. NAB filed the reference and forgot about it.”
Retired Justice Shah Khawar, who was appointed as the bureau’s special prosecutor on Tuesday was present during Friday’s hearing and told the court that until the appointment of a prosecutor general, he will be supervising the proceedings of the Hudaibiya case.
“We have looked at all the merits of the case,” Justice Isa had remarked, reserving the court’s decision on the appeal.