Justice Khosa recuses himself from Hudaibiya bench

It seems that the office has not read my verdict on Panama Leaks case said Justice Khosa

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa - the puisne judge of the Supreme Court - on Monday withdrew himself from the three-judge bench constituted specially to hear an appeal in the Rs1.2 billion Hudaibya corruption reference.

As the hearing began, Justice Khosa remarked that it could be the fault of the court office that the case was put up in front of him, as he had already spoken his mind on the subject in the Panama Papers case and it would thus not be appropriate for him to adjudicate the case.

It has now been dissolved and a new bench will be constituted by the chief justice.

"I may observe that the soundness of both the said reasons prevailing with the high court for quashing the relevant reference were quite suspect", Justice Khosa wrote in his judgment.

Ousted PM Nawaz Sharif, his brother and Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Mian Muhammad Abbas Sharif (late), Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz, Mrs Shamim Akhtar and Mrs Sabiha Abbass, Mrs Maryam Safdar, Federation of Pakistan and Judge Accountability Court No IV Rawalpindi had been made in the appeal as respondents.

The NAB pleaded with the court to set the hearing next week.

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.

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In its appeal, filed on behalf of NAB Prosecutor General Waqas Qadeer Dar on Sept 20, the bureau has sought leave to appeal against the March 11, 2014 LHC verdict. The matter was referred to a referee judge, who held that a reinvestigation was not permissible because it would mean providing NAB another opportunity to shore up the lacunas in their case to victimise the Sharifs. Later, NAB had decided not to challenge the high court's decision.

According to the Hudaibya reference, the Sharif family had been accused of setting up Hudaibya Paper Mills Ltd to launder money.

The Hudaibiya Paper Mills was allegedly used as a cover up by the Sharif family to launder money outside the country in the 1990s, Ishaq Dar had said in a confessional statement before a magistrate in 2000.

Dar later retracted his statement and claimed that the statement was gleaned under duress.

Incumbent Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was also nominated in the NAB's reference for opening fictitious (benami) foreign currency accounts to help the family commit fraud.

Dar was not charged as he had become an approver in the case for the prosecution. The hearing in the case has been adjourned indefinitely.

On Monday, when NAB Special Prosecutor Syed Imran Ali requested Justice Khosa to order the case to be fixed for hearing next week, the judge observed that such a decision was the prerogative of the chief justice.