PML-N leaders have raised questions on the intentions of the federal government for transferring judges of ANF and NAB courts hearing the cases of senior PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah, Shahbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz. The ANF court judge Masood Ashraf was hearing the drug case against Rana Sanaullah while NAB court judges Mushtaq Illahi and Naeem Arshad was hearing the cases of sharif family.
The Ministry of Law and Justice issued notification dated 26 August to transfer all the three judges. This sudden decision of the federal government gives an opportunity to PML-N leaders to raise questions on the timing of these transfers. The government notification provides no reasons and explanations of these transfers.
The ANF court judge Masood Arshad received Whats app message of his transfer while he was hearing the case. The judge stopped the hearing of the case and extended the judicial remand of Rana Sana for another 10 days. His services have been repatriated back to Lahore High Court.
Judge Naeem Arshad was the duty judge currently presiding over the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case against Maryam Nawaz and her cousin Yousuf Abbas; the Ramzan Sugar Mills case against Shehbaz Sharif; and money laundering cases against Hamza Shahbaz and Salman Shehbaz. He had been tasked with hearing these cases as the main judge was on summer holidays.
The manner in which Judge Masood Arshad has been transferred raised many questions. The judge told the lawyers in the court that “I have just received a Whatsapp message; the Lahore High Court has repatriated me. I cannot lend my expertise to this case anymore.”
The counsel for Rana Sanaullah, while talking to the media outside the court, said that this development was unprecedented. “It seems like the government is trying to decide which judge they want the verdict from,” he alleged. He said that arguments had concluded in the case when the government decided to withdraw the judge through a notification.
PML-N Spokesperson Maryam Aurangzeb also criticised the development and termed it as a direct attack on the freedom of judiciary. “Those who had made the case up against Rana Sanaullah could not bring a single piece of evidence against him, so they did this instead,” she said.
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