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LHC restrains accountability court from trying Sharifs

September 07, 2012

RAWALPINDI, Sept 6: Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench on Thursday, while hearing three identical petitions, restrained the accountability court from proceeding in the three corruption references in which Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and his other family members are also allegedly involved.

LHC division bench, comprising Justice Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmed and Justice Shahid Hameed Dar took up three petitions filed by Khawaja Harris Ahmed the counsel of Sharif family also sought reply from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in two weeks.

Advocate Ahmed told the court that earlier a division bench of the same court on October 18, 2011 passed an interim order in which it restrained the accountability court from proceeding in the three corruption references —Hudabiya Paper Mills, Ittefaq Foundaries and Raiwind assets reference — till further orders.

He said that due to some clerical mistake the respondent no. 3 (accountability court) was inadvertently typed as respondent no. 1 (federal government) and this mistake escaped the notice of this court while signing the said order.

The mistake could be corrected under section 152 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC), he added.

According to him, the mistake came to the notice of the petitioners (Sharif family) during the course of arguments, before the accountability court Rawalpindi, on an application filed by the NAB for the revival of references against the members of Sharif family.

It may be pertinent to mention here that NAB after examining the restraining order which was till the extent of the federal government only decided to proceed with the references as legally there was no legal bar that would stop the bureau from initiating the process for the revival of the references against Sharif family, subsequently, the accountability court which was the only respondent no. 3 of the petition can also revive the references after examining the arguments of either sides.

In case the court would allow the correction, the trial of Sharif family would be stopped in the accountability court until or unless the LHC vacates its stay order.

He requested the court to pass an appropriate order for rectifying the mistake in the order of October 2011 and also requested to restrain the accountability court from proceeding with the said references.

Advocate Harris told Dawn that the court very graciously admitted his request for an interim relief and temporarily stopped the trial court from proceeding against his clients in the corruption references.

The accountability court has fixed September 15, as the next date of hearing of the said references but according to advocate Harris, the court would not proceed with the matter because of the LHC restraining order.

On July 28, Chaudhry Mohammad Riaz additional deputy prosecutor general of NAB had pointed out that since the LHC on petitions seeking to quash these three references had only restrained the federal government, therefore, NAB could initiate proceedings against the Sharif family.

He recalled the LHC order which reads as: “The federation shall not proceed with the reference, however, this order shall not affect any application that may be moved by Respondent no. 2 (NAB) for revival of the reference.”

According to him, NAB is an autonomous organisation and is not answerable to the federal government, therefore, a restraining order issued to the federal government could not stop the bureau from proceeding with the case.

As per details of these corruption references, NAB accused nine members of Sharif family for committing Rs642.743 million corruption in the Paper Mills case and in the second reference state versus Nawaz Sharif etc. is related to the Raiwind assets.

The main allegation in the reference is that the accused had acquired vast tracts of land upon which a number of palatial houses and mansions were built with resources which appeared to be grossly disproportionate to their known sources of income.

Apart from Nawaz Sharif, his mother Mrs Shamim Akhtar is also an accused in the case.

In the state versus Ittefaq Foundries case, Nawaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif and Kamal Qureshi are accused of committing corruption of Rs1,063 million.

The main allegation in the case is that Ittefaq Foundries Ltd obtained cash finance from the National Bank.

As per NAB allegations, the company willfully defaulted to pay back the amount in 1994.