SC forms five-judge bench to hear Sharifs’ review petitions

* Bench suggests consequences of July 28 verdict will remain same whether review pleas are heard by a three-judge or a five-judge bench

SC forms five-judge bench to hear Sharifs’ review petitions


ISLAMABAD: Accepting the Sharif family’s request, the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Tuesday constituted a five-member larger bench to hear review petitions against the July 28 verdict in Panama Papers case.

The bench comprises Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Sh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan.

Earlier in the day, a three-judge Supreme Court bench had recommended the constitution of a five-member larger bench to hear the review petitions and referred the matter to the CJP.

As the three-judge SC bench comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan on Tuesday took up the review petitions of Nawaz Sharif, his children, son-in-law and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar against the July 28 verdict in Panama Papers case, Khawaja Haris and Salman Akram Raja, counsels for Sharif family, submitted that only a five-judge larger bench was competent to hear the review petitions and requested that the review pleas be heard by a five-judge larger bench instead of three-judge bench.

They argued that the final verdict of the Panama Papers case was signed and announced by a five-judge larger bench, thus a three-judge bench could not hear the pleas both ‘technically and legally’.

They said if a three-member bench gave any relief to the petitioners, it could not be passed on to them in presence of the five-judge bench verdict. They requested the court to accept their pending application seeking formation of five-judge bench, instead of three-judge bench, to hear the review pleas.

The court accepted their request and referred the matter to the CJP Mian Saqib Nisar for formation of five-judge larger bench, besides adjourning the matter for today (Wednesday). During the brief hearing, the judges hinted that the consequences of the July 28 verdict would remain same whether the review pleas were heard by a three-judge or a five-judge bench. They said it’s just an academic contention that only the five-judge larger bench should hear the case.

The court said the three-judge bench was same as that of the special implementation bench which oversaw work of the joint investigation team (JIT).

The counsels also pleaded that the review petitions against the July 28 judgment delivered by the five-judge bench be taken up first. Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan then noted that three-judge bench gave the majority verdict in the Panama Papers case and the decision would not have been different had the three-judge bench given a verdict in the case. The Sharif family had moved two separate applications on Monday challenging the decisions given by a five-judge bench and the other by a three-judge bench of the apex court.

The children of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif - Hussain, Hasan and Maryam, and son-in-law MNA Captain (r) Safdar, had prayed the court that their review pleas be heard by a five-judge bench, instead of three-judge bench, and that the hearing be delayed till the formation of the five-judge larger bench.

 

 

Published in Daily Times, September 13th 2017.