ISLAMABAD— The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has directed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to review Hanif Abbasi’s appointment as his aide.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah took up former interior minister Sheikh Rashid’s petition challenging the Hanif Abbasi’s appointment as special assistant to the prime minister. In his petition, filed through his counsel Sajeel Sheryar Swati, Rashid had said that Abbasi’s appointment was illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional as he was convicted and sentenced for offenses registered against him.
Rasheed pleaded the court to immediately stop Abbasi from performing his duties as the SAPM. However, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah rejected the pleas.
At the outset of the hearing, Justice Minallah called Rasheed on the rostrum and remarked that the courts were vilified in political gatherings and rallies.
“Yesterday in a rally [PTI Chairman Imran Khan] said why did the courts open at 12am. The message was given to the [party] workers that the judiciary was not independent,” remarked the chief justice,” said Justice Minallah.
He added the courts are open to everyone and asked the former minister not to undermine people’s trust in the judiciary.
Justice Minallah remarked if the PTI Chairman has lost the faith in the judiciary, then he will recuse himself from cases related to the party and refer them to other judges.
Rasheed expressed his complete faith in the judiciary, adding that he will convey the chief justice’s sentiments to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.
The hearing was adjourned till May 17.
Rasheed challenges Abbasi’s appointment
Rasheed challenged Abbasi’s appointment last week and filed a petition through his counsel in the IHC.
He objected to the appointment, calling it “illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and violative of the principles of good governance and the rule of law.”
Rasheed argued a case was registered against Abbasi in Rawalpindi on July 21, 2012 under the Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997.
The petitioner said Abbasi was sentenced for life in 2018 and Abbasi later challenged the sentence in the Lahore High Court.
He said that on April 11, 2019, the LHC only suspended Abbasi’s sentence and not the conviction.
Case against Abbasi
The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) registered a case against Abbasi and nine other people in June 2012. Abbasi was accused of obtaining Ephidrene, which is a controlled substance, for his company, Gray Pharmaceutical. However, instead of using it for medicinal purposes, Abbasi sold it on to narcotics smugglers.
After a trial that lasted six years, Abbasi was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Rawalpindi trial court on July 21, 2018 just days before the 2018 general elections.
Abbasi then filed an appeal against his conviction before the LHC. His counsel argued the allegations weren’t proven against him. He argued that the ephedrine was sold to pharmaceutical companies. But, those companies were not named in the case in the anti-narcotics court.
In April 2019, the court suspended the life sentence and ordered his release on bail.