Sunday March 03, 2024

NAB references: Hearing on Nawaz’s appeals adjourned till Wednesday

IHC CJ wonders whether a person can build unexplained assets without being involved in corruption

November 27, 2023
A view of the Islamabad High Court building. — Geo News/File
A view of the Islamabad High Court building. — Geo News/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has adjourned the hearing of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif’s appeals against his conviction in corruption cases till Wednesday (November 29).

A two-member division bench headed by the IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the appeals on Monday.

In July 2018, former prime minister Nawaz was sentenced to 10 years in jail in the Avenfield reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the light of the Supreme Court order.

The Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference pertains to the case in which he was sentenced to seven years in jail on Dec 24, 2018. He was also fined Rs1.5 billion and $25 million.

Nawaz was declared a proclaimed offender in both references in December 2020 after he left for London with the court’s permission for medical treatment.

Nawaz returned to the country last month after ending nearly four years in self-imposed exile in London.

Soon after landing in Pakistan, Nawaz had filed two separate applications seeking the restoration of his appeals against his conviction in both references.

He had contended that while he was abroad for medical treatment, the pending appeals were dismissed for non-prosecution.

Nawaz has pleaded that the court hear his pleas on merit as his petitions against the convictions were dismissed for non-prosecution as he was abroad seeking medical treatment.

Nawaz, accompanied by his legal team including former law minister Azam Nazir Tarar, appeared before the IHC amid tight security.

Today’s hearing

During the hearing of the case, PML-N’s counsel Amjad Pervez told the bench that the Supreme Court had formed the joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the corruption allegations against Nawaz.

The counsel told the bench that the top court’s April 20, 2017 order was pertaining to the formation of the JIT and its mandate.

He further said that the apex court’s 2017 verdict had empowered the JIT to probe the matter and added that the top court directed the filing of the references after disqualifying the then-prime minister Nawaz in July 2017.

Justice Aurangzeb inquired what directions were given to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman in the verdict.

Advocate Pervez informed the bench that the NAB was directed to file references within six weeks of the verdict and the order was also given to the relevant court to announce a decision on references within the same time.

Besides Nawaz, he said PML-N Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz, Captain (retired) Safdar, Hussain Nawaz, and Hassan Nawaz were also nominated in the Avenfield reference.

The counsel maintained that the NAB has argued that it had no other option but to file references in the light of the Supreme Court verdict.

IHC CJ Farooq observed that the NAB had tried to prove that Maryam Nawaz was the beneficial owner of the Avenfiled apartments.

Responding to the judges’s remarks, the counsel contended that the NAB had failed to prove that the Maryam was beneficial owner of the apartments.

He said the onus was on the prosecution to establish that Nawaz was the owner and his children were benamidar (actual owner) in the case.

After hearing the arguments, the IHC CJ adjourned the hearing of the case till November 29 (Wednesday).