ISLAMABAD: As the Supreme Court resumes on Monday the hearing of the Rs1.2 billion Hudaibya Paper Mills reference, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has come out with a request to adjourn the proceedings till the time its new prosecutor general is appointed.

A three-judge SC bench comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel will take up the NAB appeal on Dec 11 against the 2014 decision of the Lahore High Court to quash the reference.

The office of the NAB prosecutor general has been vacant since the retirement of Waqas Qadeer Dar in November.

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In a set of documents which NAB submitted to the apex court on Saturday, the bureau also urged the court to consider adjourning the matter, instead of hearing the same on Monday.

Since the appeal for opening the Hudaibya reference is of extreme significance, NAB argued that it would be better if the same be pleaded through the prosecutor general office. It stated that a summary to this effect was already pending approval from the presidency.

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At the last hearing on Nov 28, NAB prosecutor Imranul Haq argued the bureau’s appeal before the bench, but he had no answers to a number of queries raised by the court. He did not even have the copy of the actual reference No.5 of 2000, commonly known as Hudaibya reference, saying that it was not relevant.

Subsequently, the court had to summon Volume 8(A) of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report appointed by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case from its own record which also contains the copy of the reference.

NAB explained that it had decided to file the appeal before the Supreme Court during its meeting of July 20 after going through the JIT’s findings.

On Saturday the bureau also submitted before the court the copies of interim as well as the final reference on Hudaibya case as well as Volume 8A of the JIT report which also contains the copy of the Hudaibya reference.

In addition NAB had submitted the diary of the accountability court that heard the Hudaibya reference as well as the procedure of appointment of the NAB chairman and the list of all chairmen of the bureau appointed so far till its inception in 1999.

The bureau has also furnished before the apex court the timeline during which Nawaz Sharif served as prime minister as well as the period when he was in exile after ouster of his government by Gen Pervez Musharraf

At the last hearing the court had ordered NAB to submit documents showing specific dates and period when the respondents, including deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif , held top offices and when they were sent to exile.

NAB was also asked to provide particulars of all chairmen of NAB showing the dates of their appointments, the procedure adopted for their appointment as well as their qualification and who was their appointing authority.

The court had also ordered NAB at the last hearing to furnish under which provision of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999, the complaint or the Hudaibya reference was filed in which the Sharifs were accused of financial impropriety.

The Supreme Court had also asked to furnish the court diary of the accountability court concerned which was seized with the Hudaibya reference to ascertain what proceedings into the reference took place and whether testimony of any witness was ever recorded.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2017