Supreme Court of Pakistan. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday an appeal by the National Accountability Bureau seeking recovery of property of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif attached to the Hudabiya corruption reference.

“The NAB has no authority to recover the property and, therefore, we see no force in this case. Dismissed,” announced Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, who heads a three-judge bench.

The appeal was moved by NAB Prosecutor General K.K. Agha against an Oct 2011 decision of the Lahore High Court under which the bureau had to release the confiscated property of Nawaz Sharif and his family as well as an amount of Rs115 million after theconfiscation had been declared illegal.

The Sharif brothers had signed with a friendly country an agreement to go on a 10-year exile instead of serving jail term in Pakistan. They had surrendered their property to NAB in lieu of a Rs20 million fine imposed by the Attock Accountability Court in the July 2000 helicopter case. They had been assured that other corruption cases against them would be dropped.

NAB said in its appeal that it had brought the Hudabiya matter to the Supreme Court because it was in the interest of justice. The bureau wanted to revive the corruption case which was not possible earlier because of the absence of its chairman.

At the last hearing, the apex court had asked NAB to complete its paperwork in the Hudabiya Paper Mills corruption matter against Nawaz Sharif and his family.

On Wednesday, relevant documents were produced and the court held that these did not contain any agreement between NAB and the Sharif family about making any payment to the bureau.

It observed that inference could be drawn that some payments on part of the Sharif family were due, but noted that when the prosecutor general had been asked if the bureau could exercise authority to recover the money when no case was pending against Nawaz Sharif, he conceded that the property of shareholders in the company could not be taken away forcibly when the conviction stood washed away.

The bureau argued that the high court had erroneously held that there was no agreement between Nawaz Sharif and the federal government while ignoring the 2007 Supreme Court judgment that clearly proved the existence of such an agreement.

“A grave miscarriage of justice has been done while granting relief to the Sharif brothers when they badly failed to prove their stance. The LHC did not apply independent conscious judicial mind while passing the verdict in favour of the Sharif brothers,” the NAB said in its appeal.

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