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Hudaibia Case: SC Rejects NAB Appeal Against LHC Verdict

Islamabad (December 15, 2017): A three-member bench of Supreme Court on Friday rejected NAB appeal against a Lahore High Court bench decision to quash Hudaibiya Papers Mills reference against Sharif family.  

The full bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam heard NAB appeal against the LHC verdict today. After hearing arguments from the NAB prosecutors, the court reserved verdict on maintainability of the plea.

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Later, the bench pronounced verdict rejecting NAB appeal. Presiding judge Justice Mushir Alam read out the short order, rejecting the anti-graft body’s appeal.

All the three members of the bench unanimously rejected the NAB appeal to reopen Hubaibia Papers Mill case.

Earlier during the proceeding, the members of the bench had asked NAB prosecutor to advance arguments on maintainability of the case, saying that the court would first hear arguments on the question of maintainability and as to why NAB delay filing of appeal in the case.After hearing arguments from the NAB prosecutors, the court had reserved verdict on maintainability of the plea.

NAB Prosecutor Imranul Haq had stated that the LHC decision had flaws and sought the reopening of the Hudaibiya case so that legal responsibilities were fulfilled.

He had informed the bench further that Senator Ishaq Dar, on whose ‘confession’ NAB initiated the reference in 2000, submitted an apology in court.Justice Isa had remarked that the statement on which the case is based has not been submitted by NAB along with the petition.

Justice Alam had observed that if Dar’s statement was set aside, then his status would be that of an accused, but Dar has not been made a respondent in the case.“We are hearing the appeal and not the reference,” observed Justice Alam, and directed NAB to satisfy the court on its delay in filing the appeal.  Justice Isa observed that the case went on for years and the charges were not framed.

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.

During Tuesday’s proceedings, Justice Isa had asked the NAB prosecutor about the charges against the suspects in the case.NAB Prosecutor Imran-ul-Haq had informed the bench of the names of fake account holders, to which Justice Isa remarked that having fake accounts does not prove criminality, adding that the same facts were present in 2000.

The bench had also inquired as to where the Hudaibiya case was mentioned in the July 28 Panama Papers case judgment, to which the NAB prosecutor replied that the judgment ordered the filing of fresh references if new evidence surfaces.He had said that the Panama case Joint Investigation Team’s report contains material related to the Hudaibiya case. Justice Isa had remarked during the hearing that the apex court cannot rely on statements and needs solid evidence.

Newly appointed NAB Special Prosecutor Justice (retd) Shah Khawar had also observed Tuesday’s proceedings.

On Monday last, the three-member bench had dismissed NAB’s request to adjourn proceedings of the case until a new prosecutor general is appointed at the bureau.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 for the prosecution.

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Hudaibia Case: SC Reserves Order on Maintainability