A five-judge bench will be formed to hear the review petitions of Nawaz Sharif, his children, son-in-law and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar against the July 28 Panama Papers case verdict.
The Supreme Court’s three-member bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ehsan, on Tuesday heard a plea submitted by the former prime minister’s children against the hearing of their review petition by a three-member bench instead of a five-judge bench.
The judges are the same as those on the special implementation bench that supervised the work of the Panama case Joint Investigation Team (JIT).
During the hearing, Salman Akram Raja, the counsel for Nawaz’s children, pleaded the court to form a five-member bench to hear their review petitions. He also pleaded that their review petition against the judgment of the five-member bench be taken up first.
Justice Ejaz observed that the three-judge bench gave the majority verdict in the Panama Papers case and that the decision would not have been different had the three-judge bench given a verdict in the case.
However, the bench accepted Raja’s plea and sent to the chief justice a request seeking formation of a five-judge bench.
The hearing was then adjourned till Wednesday.
During the hearing, the counsel of Nawaz, Khawaja Harris, was also present and presented his arguments.
On Monday, Nawaz’s daughter Maryam, sons Hussain and Hasan, and son-in-law MNA Captain (r) Safdar moved an application in the apex court requesting that their review pleas be heard by a five-member bench, instead of the three-member bench, and that the hearing be delayed till the formation of the five-member bench.
The children of the former premier submitted that they had filed two separate review petitions — one against the decision of the five-member Panama case bench and the other against the decision of the three-member implementation bench, thus the application against the decision of the five-member bench should be heard first.
They pleaded the court to hear the review pleas against the five-member bench verdict first. They contended that since July 28 verdict that disqualified Nawaz Sharif as prime minister was final, and was signed and announced by a five-member bench, therefore, the review petitions should also be heard by a five-member bench instead of a three-member bench.
The application further stated that the same five-member bench or any other bench of the same size should be constituted to hear the review applications against the five-member bench verdict.
On August 15, the former prime minister filed three petitions in the Supreme Court to review the Panama Papers verdict which resulted in his disqualification.
The petitions pleaded the apex court to dismiss the petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq and Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed.
The former prime minister, through his petition, argued that the decision passed by the court on July 28 should have been passed by a three-member bench as Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed’s jurisdiction had expired after their dissenting judgment on April 20.
The petitions also called the commendations and appreciations of the JIT “a gross transgression” of the former prime minister’s right to a fair trial.
The former premier has also filed a request before the apex court to issue a stay order on the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict.
On August 21, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar filed a review petition against the Panama Papers case verdict.
Dar’s petition was filed by lawyers Shahid Hamid and Dr Tariq Hasan, who requested the apex court to null and void it’s July 28 decision and to halt the NAB references against Dar till the verdict on the review petition.
On August 25, Nawaz’s children and son-in-law also challenged the apex court’s July 28 verdict.
One review petition was filed against the three-judge decision and another against the five-judge decision of the apex court.
There is no accusation or evidence against Safdar, Nawaz’s son-in-law, regarding the purchase of the Sharifs’ London properties but still NAB was ordered to file a reference against him, the petition claimed.
It said further that the posting of a monitoring judge to oversee implementation of the verdict is against the law, explaining that the accountability court cannot operate independently after the appointment of an implementation judge.
The petitioners claim that their basic rights have been infringed upon as their objections to the JIT’s final probe report were not taken into consideration. Moreover, it is stated that the JIT investigation was incomplete and thus cannot be used as a basis for filing a NAB reference.
It has been argued in the review petition that the original five-member bench could not have delivered the final verdict as two judges from that bench were no longer part of the proceedings since the JIT’s work was overseen by the special three-member implementation bench.