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Judges presiding over Sharif Family & Rana Sanaullah case repatriated to Lahore High Court

A notification issued by the federal government repatriated the judges presiding over the cases filed against PML-N leaders Shahbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz and Rana Sanaullah.

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The PTI-led Federal government, on Wednesday, changed all three judges who were presiding on cases lodged against leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), including PLM-N President Shahbaz Sharif, Vice President Maryam Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz and Rana Sanaullah. All of them have been repatriated to the Lahore High Court (LHC).

The Federal government has issued an official notification announcing the repatriation of the deputed jurists, and the Lahore High Court has been asked to put forward recommendations of new ones from the district and session courts, who can be appointed in the Anti-Narcotics Court and the Accountability Court.

Details reveal that Accountability Judge Naeem Arshad was presiding over cases against Shahbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz, while Judge Masood Arshad was presiding over Rana Sanaullah’s hearing in the Anti-Narcotics Court.

Sharif Family Judges Repatriated 

Judge Naeem Arshad was the duty judge presently presiding over the hearing for the Chaudhry Sugar Mills scam, filed against PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her cousin, Yousaf Abbas. Judge Arshad is also presiding the cover the Ramzan Sugar Mills case filed against Shahbaz Sharif, and the cases of money laundering filed against his sons, Hamza Shahbaz and Salman Shahbaz.

Judge Arshad was appointed as the duty judge on these cases as the main judge presiding on these cases had taken a summer vacation.

The judgment of the Supreme Court on the petitions filed against the video scandal had strongly rebuked Judge Arshad Malik’s conduct. 

Judge Mushtaq Illahi has also been repatriated to the Lahore High Court, and even though he was not presiding over any high-profile cases involving opposition leaders, his court was hearing hundreds of NAB cases.

The notification issued by the Federal Government did not mention the reason or repatriating their services to the Lahore High Court.

WhatsApp Message: Judge Arshad 

While presiding over today’s (Wednesday) hearing on the case filed against Rana Sanaullah in the Anti-Narcotics Court, Judge Masood Arshad halted the proceeding, and said, “I have just received a Whatsapp message that my services have been repatriated to the Lahore High Court. I can no longer preside over this case.”

Addressing the media outside the court, Rana Sanaullah’s counsel said that the repatriation of Jude Arshad is unprecedented. He claimed, “It appears that the government is attempting to handpick they judge they want to give the verdict.”

Read more: IHC repatriates ex-accountability judge to LHC for disciplinary proceedings

Rana Sanaullah’s counsel further alleged that the government had decided to withdraw the services of the judge by issuing a notification when the arguments in the case had come to an end. This sudden development was also criticized by PML-N Spokesperson, Marriyum Aurangzeb, who regarded it as an attack on the freedom of justice.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said, “Those who have filed this fake case against Rana Sanaullah failed to put forward a single shred of evidence to hold him responsible, so instead, they changed the judge.”

Attaullah Tarrar, Deputy Secretary-General PML-N, observed on Twitter, “Prosecution has failed miserably. ANF lawyer has asked for an hour’s time to argue further. No evidence, no substance, no arguments. The video produced clearly shows Rana sb’s vehicle getting off from the Motorway. That’s it. No recovery evidence produced.”

This decision has come in the wake of the investigations launched against former accountability judge Arshad Malik by the Lahore High Court for being involved in a video scandal involving the PML-N leadership.

The PML-N leadership, primarily Vice President Maryam Nawaz, have accused Judge Arshad Malik of convicting former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia case under pressure. However, Judge Arshad Malik claimed that he was being blackmailed by supporters of the PML-N. The notification for the repatriation of the judge has been issued on the same day when the Lahore High Court is deciding the fate of Judge Arshad Malik.

Judge Malik was suspended from his services last week, and a seven-member bench, consisting of members of the LHC administration committee, met for a closed-door meeting to decide his fate. The judgment of the Supreme Court on the petitions filed against the video scandal had strongly rebuked Judge Arshad Malik’s conduct.

Read more: Judge Arshad Malik: A hard pill to swallow for PML-N

The judgment statement, shared by Dawn, read, “His admitted conduct emerging from that press release and the affidavit stinks and the stench of such stinking conduct has the tendency to bring bad name to the entire judiciary as an institution.”

It added, “His sordid and disgusting conduct has made the thousands of honest, upright, fair and proper ones in the country hang their heads in shame.”

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