ISLAMABAD: Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his children can cross-examine members of the high-powered joint investigation team (JIT), which probed the Panamagate case, during trial before an accountability court, Supreme Court (SC) judge Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed on Wednesday.
“The Sharifs’ counsels can cross examine every witness and the conclusion of the accountability court’s judge, without being influenced by the apex court’s observations in the Panamagate case, will be subject to the scrutiny of witnesses as well,” Justice Khan remarked during the hearing of ruling family’s review petitions being carried out by a five-judge larger bench of the top court.
In his arguments, Nawaz Sharif’s counsel raised questions over the apex court’s July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case. “The five-judge larger bench was not competent to announce the final order of the court as it was not properly constituted,” Khawaja Haris contended.
However, Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, who is heading the larger bench, observed that two members including himself disagreed with the formation of the six-member probe panel by majority judges in the court’s April 20 verdict. “Conclusion of the five judges on Sharif’s disqualification and supervision of a subsequent trial is the same but their reasons are different,” he remarked.
Referring to several earlier verdicts of the top court, Justice Khosa said: “Order of the court is always signed by all judges even those who have the minority view in the verdict.” He wondered what the problem was if all the judges signed the final order.
Another judge Justice Ijazul Ahsen observed that the judges of the apex court showed care while writing the July 28 judgment so that the trial could not be influenced. “It was just the tip of an iceberg and if the petitioners are willing to compel the court to uncover the whole of it then they should not complain about the consequences later,” he said.
The judge wondered if a poor person stole AED10,000, he would be sent to prison but when a billionaire did the same he would not face the similar consequences. “If Nawaz Sharif did not get any salary then why his iqama was not suspended,” he asked.
Haris contended the top court did not give proper hearing to the deposed PM before disqualifying him on the issue of employment with the UAE-based firm Capital FZE. The counsel also objected to the nomination of a monitoring judge to supervise the investigation, prosecution and trial in the Panamagate case before the accountability court.
In his observation, Justice Khan said the un-withdrawn salary was the asset of the deposed PM. Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh said it was a written agreement that he would withdraw the salary.
The hearing the case is adjourned till tomorrow.