ISLAMABAD: A three-member Supreme Court bench on Friday unanimously rejected an appeal of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to reopen the Hudaibiya Paper Mills scam, citing the bureau’s prolonged delay in challenging the Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict and its inability to satisfy the court on why the case should be reopened.
The Rs1.2 billion Hudaibiya Paper Mills case, involving money laundering charges against the Sharif family, was initiated by NAB in 2000 but quashed by the Lahore High Court (LHC) in 2014. The NAB had appealed the LHC decision in the SC.
Members of major political parties expressed their views on Supreme Court’s decision about reopening the high-profile case.
Minister of State for Interior and Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) leader Talal Chaudhry while welcoming Supreme Court’s decision said that courts should not take up cases that are motivated by political gains and that today’s decision is a victory for the courts as it protects and restores the courts’ dignity.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry said that this was bound to happen because of the way the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) presented its appeal before the SC. He further said that the SC judges were not guided the right way since the basic documents of the case were not attached to the appeal. The PTI leader also said that in case a PTI government is formed, it will take the matter to its logical conclusion.
A written order will be issued later in the day, detailing the SC bench’s reasons for its decision. All three judges were present when the verdict was read.
The 2000 Hudaibiya Paper Mills money laundering reference was initiated on the basis of April 25, 2000, confession statement from Ishaq Dar, wherein he admitted to his role in laundering money to the tune of $14.86 million on behalf of the Sharifs through fictitious accounts.
The witness was, however, pardoned by the then NAB chairman.
LHC referee judges Justice Sardar Shamim had quashed the reference on March 11, 2014, on the grounds that if a re-investigation was allowed against the Sharif family, it would provide an opportunity to investigators to pad up lacunas.
The LHC had quashed the case as the PML-N continued to claim that Dar’s statement was taken under duress.
NAB had controversially decided not to challenge the high court’s decision.
While Nawaz was not named in the interim reference filed in March 2000, in the final reference against the Hudaibya Paper Mills — approved by then chairman NAB Khalid Maqbool — the bureau had accused Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz, Shamim Akhtar, Sabiha Abbas and Maryam Nawaz.