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SC to hear Zardari’s appeals against registrar’s refusal to admit petition

SC to hear Zardari’s appeals against registrar’s refusal to admit petition

ISLAMABAD: Justice Umar Ata Bandial will take up on Wednesday (Nov 25) a set of four appeals filed by former president Asif Ali Zardari challenging a decision by the Supreme Court’s registrar to return his plea in which he had sought transfer of corruption references from Islamabad to an accountability court in Karachi.

On Nov 14, senior counsel Senator Farooq H. Naek had instituted chamber appeals on behalf of Asif Zardari against a Nov 10 decision by the registrar’s office to return the four petitions because these applications, in the registrar’s opinion, amounted to seeking a second review of earlier decisions of the apex court and, therefore, cannot be entertained.

The former president is facing four references at accountability courts in Islamabad — the fake bank accounts, Park Lane Estate Private Ltd, Thatta water supply and Toshakhana cases.

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He has already been indicted by a court in the Toshakhana (gift repository) reference on Sept 9, on Aug 10 over charges of money laundering for acquiring Benami properties through Park Lane Estate (Pvt) Ltd, and on Oct 5 in the Thatta water supply reference and in the fake bank accounts scandal.

The chamber appeals argued that the registrar’s order was not sustainable under the law as well as the case law enunciated by the Supreme Court.

For the “safe administration of justice”, the application said, it was a constitutional right of the petitioner to knock at the door of the apex court, but the registrar’s order “blocks the appellant’s rights at the institutional level”.

The petitioner pointed out that the Nov 10 order was signed by the assistant registrar on behalf of the registrar, contending that it was a violation of the Supreme Court’s rules.

The assistant registrar, while exercising the registrar’s powers, did not consider the law and arbitrarily returned the petition, the former president said.

He further said the assistant registrar did not take into consideration a directive of the apex court issued on Jan 7 last year in which it asked the National Accountability Bureau to initiate references in the fake accounts case at the Islamabad accountability court, but at the same time the court made it clear that the matter can be taken up afresh if any of the parties desired it or at the discretion of the implementation bench.

In view of the above arguments, the appellant said, he had the right to file the application returned by the Supreme Court’s office by terming it a second review.

The observation was based on “misreading” and even “non-reading” of the Jan 7 order, the petition said.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2020

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