ISLAMABAD: With an Islamabad High Court (IHC) decision on his request to club all references against him imminent, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday moved another petition — this time before the Supreme Court — to reconsider his earlier request to declare the corruption cases against him ‘illegal’.
The high court is expected to rule on the clubbing of references against him tomorrow (Monday), but Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar has already rejected Mr Sharif’s appeal once — in an in-chamber hearing on Thursday.
In his appeal, the former prime minister had requested the apex court to set aside the SC assistant registrar’s Oct 20 order returning his main plea and fix it for hearing.
In its decision, the registrar’s office had stated that he had already exhausted all remedies available against the final order in the Panama Papers case.
Former PM asks apex court to hear his ‘public interest’ petition; Dar challenges NAB court warrants for his arrest
The verdict ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file references against Mr Sharif and his family members.
But in a fresh petition, moved by his counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed, Mr Sharif asked the court to order the registrar office to fix his petition before a bench after registering it petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.
The fresh petition argues that the court has a constitutional duty to hear a matter on its merits when its own judgement was challenged on grounds of being per incuriam (without jurisdiction). Such a petition, it argues, cannot be disposed by a judge in-chamber.
The fresh petition contended that the Nov 16 order had forced Mr Sharif to face multiple prosecution for a single offence, which was a violation of his fundamental right to a fair trial under Article 10-A of the constitution.
Referring to the July 28 judgement, the petition asks whether or not the Supreme Court had unlimited jurisdiction to reopen, revisit or review any judgement pronounced earlier that may be per incuriam.
It contented that it was the court’s sacred duty to intervene, by exercising its jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, to correct any judicial pronouncement that may be per incuriam and could have grave consequences for all state authorities, as well as the public at large.
Would the court allow technicalities to stand in the way of correcting a verdict that may be per incuriam, it asked.
On Nov 23, an IHC division bench consisting of Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani reserved judgement on the petition, filed by Mr Sharif, seeking a joint trial in three references pertaining to the Avenfield properties, Flagship Investments and Al-Azizia Mills.
In September, NAB filed the three references before an accountability court, on the apex court’s directions.
At the last hearing on Thursday, Mr Sharif’s counsel Azam Nazir Tarrar had pointed out that several witnesses in all references were common, and that the entire evidence against the Sharif family was based on a report, prepared by the six-member Joint Investigation Team, (JIT) constituted on Supreme Court orders.
He also claimed that there was precedent where the superior courts had ordered the clubbing of references against an accused in identical situations.
But NAB opposed the idea of clubbing the cases, saying that the apex court verdict specifically directed it to file three references against Mr Sharif and his family members.
Dar challenges warrants
Minister-on-leave Ishaq Dar has challenged an accountability court order declaring him a proclaimed offender.
On Nov 21, Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir had issued non-bailable arrest warrants in his name, declaring him an absconder for his continued absence from proceedings in the assets reference against him.
In the fresh petition, Mr Dar explained that he kept appearing before the court until Oct 23, when it completed recording statements of five prosecution witnesses and the matter was adjourned until Oct 30.
He stated that he had led a Pakistani delegation to Tajikistan and proceeded to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah. There, he faced medical issues that compelled him to fly to London for medical treatment.
The petition stated that Mr Dar was due to return Pakistan on Nov 1, when his cardiologist concluded that he had to undergo a coronary angiography. At the hearing on Nov 2, he sought an exemption from personal appearing due to medical reasons, but the accountability judge dismissed the application and issued bailable arrest warrants in his name.
The accountability court had directed NAB to verify the medical reports presented by Mr Dar, but the petition alleged the bureau deliberately avoided doing so, ostensibly to aid it in continuing to oppose the petitioner’s exemption application.
Claiming that he was not avoiding proceedings deliberately, Mr Dar said he was merely acting on the advice of his doctors.
He requested the court to set aside the accountability court’s order of Nov 21 declaring him an absconder and all consequential orders for non-bailable arrest warrants and the initiation of proclamation proceedings.