ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar upheld on Thursday the Supreme Court registrar office’s decision to return an appeal by disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif moved to seek a declaration that the National Accountability Bureau’s multiple corruption references against the latter were illegal.
The appeal was taken up by the chief justice in his chambers in which senior counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed represented the former prime minister. In his appeal, Mr Sharif had requested the Supreme Court to set aside the Oct 20, 2017, order of the assistant registrar of returning his main plea and direct the office to assign a number to the petition and fix it for hearing before a bench of the court.
A source privy to the development told Dawn that the appeal was rejected on the grounds that Mr Sharif had already exhausted all remedies against the order by which the direction for filing three references was given.
CJ upholds decision of Supreme Court’s registrar office
The same ground was taken by the registrar office while returning Mr Sharif’s petition along with the paper books for not being entertainable. The reason the registrar office had given was that Mr Sharif had already exhausted all legal remedies up to the Supreme Court and that the petitioner had not approached any other appropriate forum available to him under the law for the same relief.
Moreover, Mr Sharif had also not provided any justification for not doing so, besides the certificate attached with the petition does not fulfil the requirements of the Supreme Court rules.
During the chamber hearing Khawaja Haris highlighted the 2013 judges pension case in which the apex court had held that if a verdict was per incuriam (lack of due regard to law) no technicality could stay in the way of setting it aside and that the limitations of review petitions under Article 188 and 184(3) of the Constitution would not be applicable to such cases.
If the appeal had been accepted by the chief justice in his chambers, the original petition would have been fixed before a three-judge Supreme Court bench. A five-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa while deciding the Panama Papers leaks case had ordered NAB on July 28 to furnish references against Mr Sharif and his close families on the basis of the material collected by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in its report.
Nawaz Sharif and his family members are facing three corruption references before the Accountability Court No. 1, Islamabad which has already indicted the former premier on these references.
On Nov 8, Judge Mohammad Bashir rejected a similar plea to club all the references on the grounds that the accountability court had to complete proceedings within six months.
In the main petition filed on Oct 13, Mr Sharif had pleaded before the apex court to declare its final order of July 28, to the extent that it directs filing of three references against the petitioner, per-incurium, being repugnant to the provisions of Articles 4, 9, 10A, 13 and 25 of the Constitution.
The petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution has named the federal government through the law ministry, NAB, accountability court, Mr Sharif’s sons Hussain and Hassan, daughter Maryam and son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar as respondents.
But the fresh petition also requested the apex court to suspend the proceedings before the accountability court in the three references namely 18, 19 and 20 by holding these were repugnant to the provision of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999, and the Constitution till the filing of a consolidated reference by NAB in respect of the alleged commission of offence under Section 9(a)(v) of NAO.
The petition also argued that the offence falling under Section 9(a)(v) of NAO as well as the right to fair trial demands that a single offence, irrespective of the nature and number of assets alleged to be owned, possessed or acquired by the accused or the period during which such assets may have been owned.
Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2017