The judge of the Anti-Narcotics Force Court (ANF) Masood Arshad halted the hearing of the Rana Sanaullah case midway Wednesday after learning that he had been repatriated back to Lahore Superior Court (LHC).
After the development, it was learned that a notification from the Ministry of Law and Justice, dated August 26, had called three accountability judges; Masood, Judge Mushtaq Ilahi and Judge Muhammad Naeem Arshad.
Judge Naeem Arshad was the judge on duty who currently presided over the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case against Maryam Nawaz and his cousin Yousuf Abbas; the Ramzan Sugar Mills case against Shehbaz Sharif; and money laundering cases against Hamza Shahbaz and Salman Shehbaz. He had been commissioned to listen to these cases, since the chief judge was on summer vacations.
Judge Ilahi was not listening to any high profile cases. He, however, was in the banks listening to several cases of the National Responsibility Office.
No reason was mentioned in the order.
"I just received a message from WhatsApp, the Lahore High Court has repatriated me. I can no longer lend my experience to this case," Judge Masood Arshad said during today's hearing against Rana Sanaullah.
Rana Sanaullah's lawyer, while talking to the media out of court, said this [development] It was unprecedented. "It seems that the government is trying to decide which judge they want the verdict from," he said.
He said the arguments had been concluded in the case when the government decided to withdraw the judge by notification.
PML-N spokesman Marriyum Aurangzeb also criticized the development and called it a direct attack on the freedom of the judiciary.
"Those who had presented the case against Rana Sanaullah could not present a single test against him, so they did this instead," he said.
The development comes when former accountability judge Arshad Malik is being investigated by the LHC for being at the center of a video leak scandal that made headlines last month.
The PML-N accuses Judge Malik of condemning former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the reference of Al Azizia under duress. However, the judge says he was blackmailed by supporters of PML-N.
The repatriation order of the judges is the same day, August 26, when a seven-member LHC administration committee held a closed meeting to decide the fate of Malik, who was suspended last week.
The Supreme Court, in its ruling on petitions related to the video scandal, had strongly rebuked Judge Malik for his conduct.
"His admitted behavior that arose from that press release and the affidavit stinks and the stench of that stinky behavior has a tendency to give a bad name to the entire judiciary as an institution," reads the sentence.
"His sordid and disgusting behavior has made the thousands of honest, upright, fair and appropriate judges in the country ashamed."
Additional Javed Hussain Reports