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Supreme Court dismisses review petitions filed by Sharifs, Dar against Panama Papers verdict

Supreme Court dismisses review petitions filed by Sharifs, Dar against Panama Papers verdict

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the review petitions filed by deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his children and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar against the apex court's Panama Papers judgement of July 28.

The court had reserved its verdict on the review petitions after the lawyers for the petitioners completed their arguments earlier in the day.

A five-judge SC bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, had taken up the petitions seeking review of the court’s July 28 judgement which disqualified Nawaz Sharif and ordered the filing of corruption references against Sharif, his children — Hussain, Hassan and Maryam Nawaz — son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar, and incumbent Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

"For reasons to be recorded later, all these review petitions are dismissed," Justice Khosa announced.

With the rejection of the review petitions, Sharif's disqualification as a member of the parliament remains valid. The Sharif family and Dar will now face corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau(NAB) in the accountability court.

The apex court on Friday also disposed of an application filed by Awami Muslim League (AML) leader Sheikh Rashid against NAB, accusing the latter of failing to file an appeal regarding the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case in accordance with the SC verdict.

The court decided the application after NAB prosecutor general Waqas Qadeer Dar stated before the bench that the NAB chairman had approved and ordered the filing of an appeal in SC to challenge the 2014 decision of the Lahore High Court to close the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case.

"The learned prosecutor general [...] has undertaken that the requisite appeal shall be filed before this Court within the next seven days without fail," the court's short order said. The bench subsequently disposed of the application after Sheikh Rashid did not press it following the NAB prosecutor's assurance.

Talking to reporters outside the court, PML-N leader and Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rahman said the court's decision to dismiss the review petitions was a cause of "disappointment" for her party.

She said the court should have reconsidered its verdict to disqualify Sharif for not disclosing the salary he was entitled to receive from Capital FZE. She expressed the fear that Sharif family will not get a fair trial in accountability court if a SC monitoring judge oversees the trial proceedings.

Barrister Zafarullah Khan said his party "believe[s] in the system and Constitution of Pakistan" and will therefore accept the verdict despite not agreeing with it.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan thanked the Supreme Court for ending what he referred to as the "rule of the mafia".

He said the Sharifs had attempted to get the monitoring judge removed during court proceedings to delay the cases against them, but their efforts have failed with the SC's dismissal of review petitions.

Representing Sharif's children and son-in-law Captain Safdar, Advocate Salman Akram Raja earlier in the day argued against the SC judgement. He adopted the arguments given by Sharif's counsel, and presented some of his own.

He said the court had ordered the filing of a reference against Safdar in relation to the Avenfield properties in London, but his client had no connection with the flats and "neither [had] such link emerged from the JIT [Joint Investigation Team] report".

Raja said Safdar had signed the trust deed executed between Maryam and Hussain Nawaz regarding the properties as a witness only.

At this, Justice Khosa observed that the JIT report had stated Maryam to be the beneficial owner of the two offshore companies which owned the London flats.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan said the British Virgin Islands authorities had deemed Maryam to be the owner of the said offshore companies and therefore it is incorrect to say that Safdar, Maryam's husband, has nothing to do with the flats.

The lawyer argued that his client's fundamental rights will be violated due to the filing of the references. But Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed assured him that no compromise will take place on the petitioners' fundamental rights and right to a fair trial. He reminded the lawyer that his client was free to cross-examine the witnesses during the trial.

The Sup­reme Court had on Thursday asked Sharif to have trust in the court, which had "always come to his rescue" in the past.

“There is no need to get apprehensive merely beca­use one decision has come against you,” Justice Asif Saeed Khosa observed while addressing senior counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed, representing Sharif.

The observation came when Khawaja Haris expressed the reservation that his client might not get a fair trial in the accountability court since everything in the corruption references against Nawaz Sharif and his children had been attributed to the Supreme Court.

“When I go to the trial court I will have to assail the manner the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) conducted inquiry against my client, which will be difficult due to the July 28 Supreme Court judgement that carries tags like ‘godfather’ against him [Nawaz Sharif] and because everything in the reference had been attributed to the apex court,” the counsel said.

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