SC Gave Panama Verdict with Extreme Caution, Judge Remarks

SC Gave Panama Verdict with Extreme Caution, Judge Remarks

Islamabad (September 13, 2017): A member of the larger bench of the apex court hearing review petitions of Sharif family against SC’s July 28 verdict remarked that the court had given the verdict in Panamagate case with extreme cautions, keeping it in view the decision may not affect any other trial.

The larger bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa heard the petitions seeking review of July 28 decision of the apex court disqualifying Nawaz Sharif and ordering filing of review petition against Sharif family members and Ishaq Dar.

Justice Ejazul Ahsan during the course of proceeding remarked that the court had given verdict in Panama case with extreme caution, keeping in view that the verdict must not affect other trials.

Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Khwaja Harris advance arguments before the bench on the petitions.Justice Asif Saeed Khosa made it clear on Wednesday 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 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 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 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.

The counsel also brought up the SC’s decision to appoint a supervisory judge to oversee proceedings of the references against the Sharif family in the accountability court, saying that it was in violation of the petitioners’ fundamental rights.

No past examples can be found of the decision to appoint a judge who was a part of the five-member bench as the supervisory judge, contended Haris.

Through its judgement, the counsel said, the SC has become a complainant in the case itself.Harris contended that the question is 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 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.Haris claimed that the apex court had praised JIT members in its judgement. “We even praised you,” quipped Justice Saeed Khosa in response. At this, the counsel offered that the praise for him could be expunged from the verdict, but the bench refused the idea.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan acknowledged that the court had praised the JIT investigation, saying that the findings would be scrutinised in the trial court.

When Justice Ijazul Ahsan pointed out that the petitioners had not challenged the April 20 verdict — implying that they had accepted it — the counsel responded that his clients had accepted only the majority judgement that ordered the formation of a JIT.The hearing was then adjourned until tomorrow, September 14. The counsel for Nawaz’s children and son-in-law, Salman Akram Raja, was also present in the courtroom and is expected to present his arguments tomorrow.

The counsel for Nawaz’s children and son-in-law, Salman Akram Raja, is also present in the courtroom and will present his arguments later.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.

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