Apex court releases detailed judgement in NAB’ appeal for reopening Hudaibiya papers mills case

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The apex court on Friday released detailed judgement in National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’s appeal regarding reopening of Hudaibiya Papers Mills case, saying it was satisfied with verdict of Lahore High Court (LHC).

The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justices Qazi Faez Isa and Mazhar Alam Miankhel, upheld the High Court order quashing the reference. The apex court in its short order had dismissed the NAB’s appeal on December 15.

The detailed judgement written by Qazi Faiz Issa concludes that respondents in the case were denied the due process. It said the legal process was abused by keeping the reference pending indefinitely and unreasonably. The Reference served no purpose but to oppress them. The bench also noted with grave concern the lack of commitment and earnestness on part of NAB at the relevant time. The judgment said that the Lahore High Court (LHC) was justified to quash the Reference and once it was quashed the question of reinvestigation did not arise.

It said that Hudaibiya papers mills case was instituted on a unnamed writ petition. The court was held in Attock fort for hearing of the case while Chairman NAB had no authority to hold court in Attock fort. It said that holding court in Attock fort was repugnant to fair and transparent trial of the accused. It said accused were given chance to prove their innocence.

The detailed verdict said that statement of Ishaq Dar was relating to his own explanation while the accused was not given opportunity to make their explanation. The statement of Ishaq Dar was not recorded under section 164. It said that Magistrate had no power to record statement. It said the statement of Ishaq Dar could had recorded before Accountability court or Chairman NAB in the presence of the accused.

The SC decision said that media did serious reporting during the hearing while some media groups published opinion of those persons who have had interest in the case and some media groups did false reporting about the case. It said that media must report the court proceeding accurately.

It said that judge of the Lahore High Court (LHC) did not explain reasons to reinvestigate the case. It said the reference was delayed for indefinite period, which was negate of legal process. It said the accused were not given chance to defend themselves. It said basic purpose of the reference was to exert pressure on the accused and nothing except it while NAB was not optimistic during filing of the reference.

The NAB did not present even a single witness or proof against accused in trial court. The NAB did not mention appropriate reasons to adjourn the applications in trial court while none of the accused requested to adjourn the case in trial court. The NAB was motivated after filing of application by accused in High Court. Chairman NAN filed application for restoration but did not follow it.

It said that verdict must be made about the accused at the earliest so that culprit may get punishment while innocent can be acquitted. It said the cases, which remain pending for longer period prove the saying about finding justice in delay. The NAB filed appeal after lapse of 1229 days and did not mention reasons for the delay. It (NAB) adopted stance of self-imposed exile of Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif while stance of self-imposed exile was contrary to the facts.

According to Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report, the money was laundered in 1991-92 but money laundering was declared illegal in Pakistan in 2007. The trial for money laundering charges is not held in accountability court but in session court. The NAB did not level allegation on the accused that money kept in foreign accounts was not illegal.

The Rs1.2 billion Hudaibiya Paper Mills case, involving money laundering charges against the Sharif family, was initiated by NAB in 2000 but quashed by the Lahore High Court (LHC) in 2014. The NAB had appealed the LHC decision in the Supreme Court.