Justice Asif Khosa of SC rescues himself from Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference

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

As the hearing commenced today, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said that he has already spoken his mind in Panama Papers case and it will be inappropriate for him to adjudicate the case.

On Monday, however, when the three-member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa arrived in the courtroom, Justice Asif Khosa recused himself from the bench, saying that the registrar's office might have made a mistake while fixing the instant case before his roster.

The bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan was to hear the case, but Justice Khosa recused himself from the bench and referred the matter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan for constituting another bench for the objective.

During the hearing, the NAB prosecutor requested that the case should be taken up next week after formation of a new bench. "I wrote 14 paragraphs over Hudaibiya Papers Mills in the April 20 decision".

The NAB has challenged the Lahore High Court's verdict, quashing the Rs1.2 billion Hudaibya corruption reference against the ruling family. The three-member bench included Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel.

The case was lodged against Nawaz Sharif, his brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Shehbaz's son and Member of National Assembly Hamza Shehbaz and other members over Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar's confessional statement on April 25, 2000 before magistrate in Lahore. However, he had refrained from issuing directions to NAB to file a fresh case because that could be construed as compromising the impartiality of the appellate court.

A joint investigation team set up to investigate the Sharif family's offshore properties had recommended in its report that the Hudaibya Paper Mills should be investigated afresh.

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.

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If NAB manages to convince the Supreme Court to accept its appeal, it will mean resurrecting Reference No. 5 of 2000 and filing it before the accountability court concerned for a final decision.

He further said that he has ordered NAB to reopen the case.

The Sharif family had earlier made a decision to challenge the bench of the Apex court formed for hearing the NAB appeal seeking reopening of the Hudaibiya papers mills reference.

Following the revelations, the NAB had filed an appeal before the LHC against the mill, Sharif family, Dar and others.

Hudaibiya Paper Mills case is about alleged fraud of over 1,242 million-an amount that makes it bigger in scale than Panama Papers case.

On Dec 3, 2012, the high court had quashed the reference in a unanimous judgement, but the judges disagreed over the permissibility of a NAB reinvestigation.

Dar was not charged as he had become an approver in the case for the prosecution.

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