ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Saturday accepted for hearing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) petitions seeking action against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) for receiving funding from ‘illegal’ foreign sources, as well as accepting an appeal filed by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif requesting the court to order the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file a consolidated reference against him instead of pursuing three separate cases.
The petitions, submitted by PTI MNAs Asad Umar and Shireen Mazari, asked the SC to order the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to investigate the parties’ sources of funding and withdraw the election symbols allotted to them.
They were previously returned by the SC registrar with objections that the concerned forums had not been approached before moving the top court. The petitioners had then appealed the decision, which will now be heard by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar on Nov 15.
The PTI itself is currently facing two separates cases in relation to receiving foreign funding; one before the SC and the other before the ECP.
Nawaz Sharif’s appeal maintained that filing of three separate references is “illegal and violative of law and the Constitution, besides being violative of his fundamental rights”.
Sharif had filed an appeal against his petition being rejected by the SC registrar.
Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Harris had earlier argued for the consolidation of the three corruption references, saying that the charges levelled against the Sharifs were common in all three references. The references relate to different assets but all three name the same persons as accused.
He said the court had the authority to continue with the proceedings after merging the references, adding that under the law, an accused could not be punished for a crime multiple times.
Harris pleaded that while three references could remain, a single trial should be held against the accused. If they are found guilty after trial of the central reference, one sentence should be announced.
The counsel also pointed out that nine and 13 witnesses have been named in the Flagship Investment Ltd reference and Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference, respectively. Six witnesses are common in both references and three are common with those of Avenfield flats reference, he observed.
If the same witness is allowed to testify in multiple references, he or she would get time to prepare as they would know what questions the defence counsel is likely to ask and they might alter their statement accordingly, he argued.
Hearings for both appeals are to be held in the Chief Justice Nisar’s chamber.