ISLAMABAD/Lahore - As the deposed prime minister prepares for a show of his political power through a GT Road marathon, lines are also being drawn for another legal battle.

In the light of Panama case verdict, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is preparing four references against Nawaz Sharif, his children, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and others.

The ruling party, on the other hand, is mulling legal options to forestall the harm that could come from these cases.

Also, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique on Friday said a review petition against July 28 verdict will be filed in the Supreme Court. “Nawaz Sharif will play bigger role in the politics in future,” he told the media.

Sources told The Nation on Monday that NAB has decided to request the Supreme Court for providing a copy of Volume-10 of the JIT report to help prepare the cases against Sharif family and others.

Quoting unnamed sources, the INP news agency said the accountability watchdog has also decided to make JIT members main witnesses in the references.

On the other hand, the appointment of a judge for the monitoring of the NAB work and accountability court proceedings has been challenged in Supreme Court, while the IHC rejected a plea for putting the names of Sharif family members and other accused on the ECL.

Well-placed sources told The Nation that a five-member investigation team of NAB will formally request monitoring judge Justice Ijazul Ahsan in a couple of days to provide the copy of Volume-10.

The sources claimed that the NAB wants access to Volume-10 for a more effective investigation and prepare strong cases the Sharif family members, Dar as well as Sheikh Saeed, Musa Ghani, Kashif Masood Qazi, Javaid Kiyani, Saeed Ahmed and others who may have any direct or indirect link to the financial dealings of the Sharifs.

On July 28, the Supreme Court in its final verdict in Panama Papers case had ordered the NAB to file corruption references against the Sharif family and others in the Rawalpindi/Islamabad accountability court within six weeks.

Following the SC order, the NAB constituted a five-member investigation team headed by Additional Director M Rizwan and four deputy directors, Mehboob Alam, Muhammad Zubair, Aamir Marth and Asma Chaudhry to probe the cases.

The names of the investigation team were finalised on July 31 by NAB Director General Nasir Iqbal in consultation with bureau’s top officials. It was also decided that two references would be assigned to the NAB Rawalpindi and another two references to the NAB Lahore.

Talking to The Nation, a senior NAB officer said that the investigation team started its work from last Monday on given terms and conditions with the task to complete the investigation of all references within the given timeline.

He said that the security of NAB headquarters and Rawalpindi office has been beefed up, and the anti-graft body may also seek special security for Rawalpindi bureau. He said that the bureau has also instructed all staff to avoid using mobile phones or Whatsapp during office hours. Entry of irrelevant people in NAB offices has also been banned.

The Nation tried to contact NAB spokesperson Asim Ali Nawaizsh to get his version on the phone and sent him text messages but he did not respond till the filing this story.

Monitoring judge

In a related development, a petition has been filed in Supreme Court challenging the apex court decision of appointing Justice Ijazul Ahsan as ‘monitoring judge’ for the NAB proceedings and accountability courts in cases against Sharif family and others.

Barrister Zafarullah Khan of Watan Party filed the petition in SC Lahore registry. He submitted that the Panama case judgment passed by SC against an elected prime minister without trial would be remembered mostly for the infirmity of legal reasons, for question it raises about the integrity of the process leading to the verdict and for distorting institutional balance of power.

He said that if a judge of the SC would monitor the whole process of references against Nawaz Sharif and his family members then how the purpose of fair trial would be completed under Article 10(A) of the Constitution. He said it was being done first time in the history because there was no precedent of an SC judge monitoring any case in the lower courts.

The affected party could not get fair trail from a lower court if it would remain prejudiced by the apex court’s constant monitoring, he argued. He further said NAB laws do not provide any provision for monitoring of the court’s proceeding by a superior court judge.

The lawyer also revealed in his petition that history was witness that Pakistan’s judiciary did not have known standing for democracy and constitutionalism or exhibiting allegiance to the scheme of institutional check and balance. He pleaded the court that the monitoring of the trial court proceedings by a judge of the SC would obstruct the course of justice.

He prayed the court to declare the appointment of Justice Ahsan as monitoring judge violative to right to fair trial under Article 10-A of the Constitution. He also prayed the court to provide Nawaz Sharif with a right to appeal like other cases taken up under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

IHC rejects ECL plea

Our staffer Shahid Rao reported that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday turned down a petition seeking court directives to put the names of Nawaz Sharif, his children, his son-in-law, and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on the exit control list (ECL).

IHC judge Aamer Farooq took up the petition of Raeed Abdul Wahi who had requested the court to bar the respondents to leave the country by putting their names on the ECL. However, the court rejected the petition by terming it non-maintainable.

The petitioner had prayed to the court to direct the interior ministry, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general and director immigration and passports to put in lien properties and assets of Sharif and the other respondents.

The petitioner has contended that the implementation of the orders of Supreme Court in Panama case imply that respondents No 4 to 9 were guilty of corruption, money-laundering, and the making of money illegally, unlawfully and purchasing of properties abroad, hence an immense criminal breach of trust has been committed by them. Therefore, they were liable to be prohibited from leaving the country.

Barrister Zafarullah Khan of Watan Party filed the petition in SC Lahore registry. He submitted that the Panama case judgment passed by SC against an elected prime minister without trial would be remembered mostly for the infirmity of legal reasons, for question it raises about the integrity of the process leading to the verdict and for distorting institutional balance of power.

He said that if a judge of the SC would monitor the whole process of references against Nawaz Sharif and his family members then how the purpose of fair trial would be completed under Article 10(A) of the Constitution. He said it was being done first time in the history because there was no precedent of an SC judge monitoring any case in the lower courts.

The affected party could not get fair trail from a lower court if it would remain prejudiced by the apex court’s constant monitoring, he argued. He further said NAB laws do not provide any provision for monitoring of the court’s proceeding by a superior court judge.

The lawyer also revealed in his petition that history was witness that Pakistan’s judiciary did not have known standing for democracy and constitutionalism or exhibiting allegiance to the scheme of institutional check and balance. He pleaded the court that the monitoring of the trial court proceedings by a judge of the SC would obstruct the course of justice.

He prayed the court to declare the appointment of Justice Ahsan as monitoring judge violative to right to fair trial under Article 10-A of the Constitution. He also prayed the court to provide Nawaz Sharif with a right to appeal like other cases taken up under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.