Islamabad (September 14, 2017): Former Prime Minister Nawaz’s Sharif counsel Khuwaja Harris on Thursday completed his arguments before the five-member larger bench hearing the review petitions filed by Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar against the July 28 verdict of the court.
The larger bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa on Thursday resumed hearing of the petitions seeking review of the court July 28 judgement that disqualified the former premier, besides ordering NAB to file references against him and his family members and Finance Minister Dar.
During the course of hearing, when Harris contended that his client was disqualified for non-received salary, a member of the bench remarked that documents submitted in court during the Panama Papers case proved that then prime minister Nawaz Sharif received a salary from a UAE-based company in August 2013.Harris argued that Nawaz never claimed to receive any salary from FZE Capital.
He added that a proper trial was required for disqualification of a lawmaker. He argued that under the Article (i) (f), elections of a lawmaker is declared void, but the court straightaway disqualified his client for life under the same article.Justice Ejaz remarked that Nawaz Sharif did not declare a salary account and that documents submitted in court state that he received in August 2013 a salary in his FZE Capital account. He observed further that the relevant record in this regard is present in the JIT’s Volume IX.
Adding to this, Justice Ahsan remarked that Nawaz’s employment number is 194811 and that documents state that he received a salary.
Justice Azmat stated that the apex court made its decision in the case on verified facts.However, Harris reiterated that Nawaz never received any salary from FZE Capital in any of his accounts.
Terming the JIT report incomplete, Harris said the JIT received most of its documents from sources and had faults in it. Justice Ejaz responded that the faults in the report will benefit your case.
“You will have a complete chance for cross-examination in the trial court,” he remarked. He added that the bench had not considered the JIT report the undeniable truth and did not make its decision on the basis of the JIT report.During the hearing, when Harris argued that the court should have directed NAB to file references if it considered them fit, the bench responded that had the matter been left to NAB alone the references would not have been filed.
As Harris resumed his arguments, Justice Azmat remarked that the counsel should “have faith in the court not the streets”, adding that the court will ensure that no injustice occurs during the trial court proceedings.During the hearing on Wednesday, Justice Ejazul Ahsan had remarked that the court had given verdict in Panama case with extreme caution, keeping in view that the verdict must not affect other trials.
The bench further observed that the appointment of a monitoring judge is nothing new.
After Harris completed his arguments, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s counsel Shahid Hamid began presenting his arguments.Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had made it clear that all judges on the bench had agreed on the July 28 judgement.
The content of the minority judgement of April 20 [where the verdict was 3-2] and majority judgement of July 28 may have been different, but they both reached the same conclusion: Nawaz Sharif stands disqualified, said the judge.Senior counsel Khawaja Haris had argued that the two judges who had written dissenting notes against Nawaz in the initial April 20 judgement of the case could not have signed the verdict issued by the five-member bench on July 28.
The two dissenting judges in the April 20 order — Justice Khosa and Justice Gulzar — had signed on a “different” verdict on July 28, Haris maintained, after which they were no longer a part of the bench.
Justice Khosa, however, informed the counsel that the final verdict had been signed by all five judges, and the bench members had previously disagreed only over the formation of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT).“None of the three judges [who ruled in favour of further investigation on April 20] had disagreed with the minority verdict [of disqualifying Sharif]”, he emphasised.
Justice Khosa had said that the two judges who ruled in favour of disqualification on April 20 did not add anything in the July 28 verdict.
Dissenting judges also sign final judgements, he had said, adding that similar examples existed in judicial history.
Haris said that Sharif was disqualified under Article 62(1)(f), arguing that the former prime minister should have been issued a show-cause notice to explain himself.“Nawaz Sharif should have been given the chance of a fair trial,” he contended.Harris had contended that the question was whether the court could order the National Accountability Bureau to launch an investigation.
“Nawaz’s basic rights were usurped by appointing monitoring judge,” Harris said further.
Justice Ejaz had said that the accountability court was free to reach to its own decision. The investigation can be reviewed and that the petitioners will be allowed the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses and JIT members, he said.When Justice Ijazul Ahsan pointed out that the petitioners had not challenged the April 20 verdict — implying that they had accepted it — the counsel had responded that his clients had accepted only the majority judgement that ordered the formation of a JIT.The Supreme Court had decided on Tuesday to the Sharifs’ plea that a five-judge bench is formed to hear the review petitions against the July 28 Panama Papers case verdict instead of an already-formed three-member bench.
The new bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, includes Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.All five judges were part of the Panama Papers case bench that disqualified Nawaz and ordered the filing of corruption cases against the others.During hearing of the plea by the Sharifs for the formation of a larger bench on Tuesday, Raja had pleaded the three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Ejaz and comprising Justice Azmat and Justice Ahsan, to form a five-member bench to hear their review petitions.
He had also pleaded that their review petition against the judgment of the five-member bench be taken up first.
Justice Ejaz had observed that the three-judge bench gave the majority verdict in the Panama Papers case and that the decision would not have been different had the three-judge bench given a verdict in the case.
However, the bench accepted Raja’s plea and sent to the chief justice a request seeking the formation of a five-judge bench, which was notified later in the day.On August 15, the former prime minister filed three petitions in the Supreme Court seeking the court to review the Panama Papers verdict.The petitions pleaded the apex court to dismiss the petitions filed by Sheikh Rasheed, Imran Khan and Siraj-ul-Haq.
The former prime minister, through his petition, argued that the decision passed by the court on July 28 should have been passed by a three-member bench as Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed’s jurisdiction had expired after their dissenting judgment on April 20.“That by signing the Final Order of the Court dated 28.07.2017, the Honorable two Members of the “Bench” have actually passed two final Judgments in the same case, which is unprecedented in judicial history,” said the appeal.