ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, appeared before the Supreme Court this morning in a 1985 case regarding illegal construction of shops on shrine land in Pakpattan.
Sharif was the chief minister of Punjab during that period three decades ago.
At the onset of the hearing, the lawyer of Mr. Sharif informed the CJP that he had issued summon to his client.
The CJP referred to the former PM and asked: “Did you de-notify the Auqaf Department’s property?” Sharif responded: “The case dates back to 32 years and as per my record, I have taken no such decision [to hand over shrine property to anyone]”.
“The property belonged to the Auqaf Department, but some people who claimed to be its real owners approached the district judge,” said the chief justice.
The CJP suggested formation of the JIT if the case required further probe.
Mr Sharif responded, saying: “You can form some other body instead of the joint investigation team… it doesn’t feel good to see the mention of the JIT”
Justice Nisar asked the former PM to decide himself what should be done in the case. ‘After all, meting out justice is not only judiciary’s job,’ he added.
The hearing of the case was adjourned for a week.
This was the first time Mr. Sharif appeared in person before the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar. During the last hearing, the lawyer of the former PM had submitted response on behalf of his client.
The court had ordered the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader to appear in person before the apex court.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, in the hearing on Oct 19, asked defence lawyer Iftikhar Gillani, “Under which law, the shops were built on the shrine land?”
The lawyer responded that the court, after 29 years, stating that the notification was unconstitutional. The CJP reprimanded the counsel and said: “The court is responsible for supremacy of the Constitution. My benches will hear your cases,” he added.
The bench was informed that 8,000 kanal land of the Pakpattan shrine belonging to the Auqaf department was sold as per a 1985 order. “However, later the Auqaf department declared it a charitable endowment and a court judgment has also been passed in this regard,” the counsel informed the court.
The chief justice also inquired about the Auqaf secretary in 1985 who issued the orders. “We will issue a notice to him as well,” he remarked. The additional advocate general Punjab informed the chief justice that then Auqaf secretary had passed away.
The defence counsel added that: “If you want to issue notices then issue them to all owners of such properties across Pakistan. There are 8,000 such people.” “We will issue notices to everyone,” Justice Nisar had responded.