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June 20,2018

Corruption cases: Nawaz, Maryam given four-day exemption

Faisal Kamal Pasha

ISLAMABAD: The Accountability Court (AC) on Tuesday granted four-day exemptions to the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz from personal appearance before the court in the pending corruption references after Nawaz Sharif filed an exemption application in the context of his ailing wife in London.

Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif’s legal counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmad advocate rejoined the case as he on June 11 withdrew his ‘Vakalatnama’ and of his whole legal team due to a June 10 order of the Supreme Court (SC) directing the trial judge to conclude the references within four weeks and determine his own timings for also working on Saturdays and Sundays.

On Tuesday, Khawaja Haris rejoined the case through an application and requested the trial AC to determine the purport of SC order in terms of working schedule and also that if SC order would impact the order of a writ petition that is pending before Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking simultaneous decisions in the three corruption references of Avenfield, Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship. That the true import, scope and intent of the SC order dated June 10 be ascertained as it would determine whether the SC order would only affect the manner of disposal of three references or it also impinges upon the outcome of the writ petition pending before IHC, applicant said.

Meanwhile, Khawaja Haris would start his final arguments in Avenfield apartment’s corruption reference. In his application for withdrawal of his June 11 application when he had left this case as counsel, Khawaja Haris said in the recent application that he had been asked by his client to continue in the aforesaid cases. His client tried for another counsel but unable to make arrangements. The applicant has been requested by his client notwithstanding the prejudice that is inevitably going to be caused to him because of the trial proceedings being rushed through in terms of SC order. Applicant has apprised his client about the negative fallouts that are likely to occur due to pressure under which he will be acting under unreasonable time constraints.

That on June 11, the applicant withdrew his Vakalatnama (power of attorney) and also his whole legal team because the applicant is convinced that under the SC order to decide the references within four-week time, applicant cannot do justice to the briefs of his client or to render services to the best of his abilities. That this is so, because of the quantum of work, complexity of the propositions of law and facts involving these references. In a case like this where a counsel has to go through thousands of documents for preparation of arguments, if he may be compelled to work on Saturdays and Sundays, it would mean that he has no time to prepare for the cases as per best standard demanded by the profession. That directing the trial court to determine its own working hours for Saturdays is unprecedented, tantamount micromanaging the trial through an order which on the face of it not supported by any provisions of law and constitution. No law confers upon powers to the SC to fix or determine the working hours for trial court, Haris in his application said. The applicant is also aggrieved that the Supreme Court has given free hand to this trial court to take up one reference for decisions before the others two when a writ petition for joint adjudication of the three references is already pending before the Islamabad High Court.

It is to mention here that previous hearing of the case, AC judge Muhammad Bashir had observed that the direction to work on Saturdays and Sundays is for this court and not the counsels and these remarks were not part of order.

In his application seeking exemption from personal appearance, Nawaz Sharif said that he was supposed to join court proceedings immediately after Eid vacation but the critical condition of his wife prevented him to return to the country. Applicant’s wife is under treatment for cancer there in the United Kingdom. Last Thursday when the applicant arrived in London, he came to know that his wife had suffered cardiac arrest and she had been put on a life supporting ventilator. Doctors have to consistently consult the applicant and his children for adopting further course of action in the treatment of his wife. Nawaz Sharif prayed to the court to grant him 7 days exemption from personal appearance before the court. In the absence of Nawaz Sharif Barrister Ali Ameel Pervez Malik will represent him as pleader.


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