Supreme Court withdraws notice against Shahbaz Sharif
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday withdrew the notice against Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif in the dual nationality case for non-availability of evidence.
The court also rejected the request of former MNA Shahnaz Sheikh’s counsel not to initiate criminal proceedings against her. The counsel requested the court that as she had resigned from the National Assembly membership, hence the court should instruct the Election Commission not to take action against her. The court, however, upheld its earlier decision and rejected Shahnaz Sheikh’s plea.
A three-member bench of the apex court, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, heard the dual citizenship case.
The court had declared Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) MNA Shahnaz Sheikh disqualified for the National Assembly membership, directing for criminal action against her. Her National Assembly membership was earlier suspended on October 3 for holding Pakistani and Australian nationality as well as non-representation in the court. The court had also issued directives to the authorities concerned to take all perks and salaries back from her.
During the hearing on Wednesday, the court also reinstated Waseem Qadir as a member of the Punjab Assembly after convincing argument that he was not a dual nationality holder. The court withdrew the notice issued against Shahbaz Sharif after Raja Riaz Ahmed, leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly, appeared in person and informed the court that he had no personal information regarding Shahbaz Sharif’s dual nationality but there were rumours in this regard.
Raja Riaz contended that a reporter of a news channel had come to his chamber and whispered about the dual nationality of Shahbaz Sharif, at which he simply said that the authorities concerned should take notice of it.
The court, however, asked Raja Riaz as to why he did not contradict the statement through a press conference or statement. Raja Riaz said that he had the recording of his conversation on the issue and could provide it to the court.
The court observed that being the leader of the opposition in the provincial assembly, Raja Riaz ought to be careful in delivering statements and should have clarified his statement before appearing in front of the bench.
“We have to be very cautious and it is our responsibility that we remain as responsible,” Justice Jawwad S Khawaja told Raja Riaz. The chief justice observed that the leader of the opposition could have clarified his statement but now the case had been registered in the apex court and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) would investigate it. Justice Jawwad remarked that there was also a need for formulating a code of conduct for journalism.
Naseer Bhutta, the counsel for Shahbaz Sharif, prayed for the dismissal of the plea against his client over non-availability of evidence. The court accepted his plea and withdrew the notice against the Punjab chief minister after consulting both parties to the case.
During the course of hearing, the editor of an Urdu daily also appeared before the court and submitted that they had published the statement of Raja Riaz, which was released by a news agency.
At this, Justice Jawwad told him that he should have confirmed the news from the said news agency before publishing it.MNA Mujtaba Kharal also appeared before the court and denied of having dual citizenship submitting that he had renounced the Canadian citizenship in 2007.
The court issued notice to Umar Cheema, correspondent of The News, to appear before the court and explain his position over his claim that MNA Mujtaba Kharal also held the Canadian nationality. The chief justice observed that being a reporter of a prestigious English daily, he should have confirmed the news before publishing it. The chief justice observed that the court could discharge its notice against Mujtaba Kharal but before this Umar Cheema should appear before the court and explain his position.
The court also summoned the interior minister on the next date of hearing after he could not appear before it on Wednesday. Later, the court adjourned the hearing for two weeks.