SC Justice Asif Saeed refuses to hear Hudaibiya Paper Mills case

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A three-member Supreme Court (SC) bench that was formed to hear National Accountability Bureau (NAB) appeal to reopen Hudaibiya Papers Mills against Sharif family has dissolved today (Monday). Justice Khosa is the judge who gave a verdict of 14 paragraphs regarding Hudaibiya Paper Mills in the Panama Papers.

The anti-graft body had submitted that in view of the fact that the JIT which was constituted by the apex court while dealing with the petitions, for probing Panama matter, when collected further incriminating material regarding Hudaibiya Paper Mills, it (NAB) can not be debarred or restrained from proceeding further with the investigation, hence it would be appropriate to set aside the impugned judgment to the extent of re-investigation in order to fortify and corroborate the material collected by the JIT. On September 20, NAB pleaded SC to dismiss Lahore High Court decision to end the Hudaibiya Paper Mills and reopen the case as new evidence had been exposed in the Panama case joint investigation team report.

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The referee judge is not competent to set aside the finding of the judge of high court regarding re-investigation as has been done in this case, the NAB has contended.

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.

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Justice Khosa's 192-page note had directed the NAB to proceed against Dar in connection with Hudabiya Paper Mills reference wherein he was not an accused person when the said reference was quashed by the LHC, which also barred the reinvestigation and set aside Dar's confessional statement. The witness was, however, pardoned by the then NAB chairman. Later, NAB had decided not to challenge the high court's decision.

High court referee judge Justice Sardar Shamim had quashed the reference on March 11, 2014 on the grounds that if a re-investigation was allowed against the Sharif family, it would provide an opportunity to investigators to pad up lacunas.

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Dar was not charged as he had become an approver in the case for the prosecution. "The reopening of this case is said to be the real reason behind Ishaq Dar's summary departure from the country through a circuitous route - first on government expense to Dushanbe and then privately onto Saudi Arabia where Nawaz Sharif was resident at the time, and then onwards to London; and his refusal to step down as the country's finance minister while extending his stay in London indefinitely ostensibly for medical reasons, PTI stalwarts told Business Recorder". Barrister Zafar argued that Nawaz Sharif was convicted in the plane hijacking case and left for Jeddah after signing a deal with Musharraf without filing any appeal in the case.he filed the appeal after an eight-year hiatus and "the court condoned the delay at his request so that decision may be used against him to condone the delay in filing an appeal in the Hudaibia Papers mills case", he maintained. The bench was scheduled to conduct proceedings on Monday.

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