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June 12, 2018

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Kh Haris withdraws from Nawaz cases citing biases

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister of Pakistan Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris while withdrawing from representing the PML-N founder in the accountability court (AC) expressed his inability to work overtime and on Saturdays in the three references being heard in the court. But at the same time, Haris, at length, mentioned all the alleged injustices and biases shown towards his client Mian Nawaz Sharif during the past eight months by the accountability court. Nawaz’s counsel has also questioned the credibility of the Accountability Court for not sticking to its earlier orders announced in the open court.

Haris has mentioned in his application all the incidents and applications that were filed by him and were rejected by the accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir. Haris had also retained the old orders of the same judge in the same references that the decision would be announced separately but now all of a sudden, the trial has been expedited in the Avenfield Apartments reference and the prosecution has completed its arguments in the case too.

That here it is pertinent to mention that the proceedings in Reference No 20/2017 were expedited, it is submitted with respect, in circumstances which left the credibility of this learned court in serious doubt.

Haris has written in his application that this court on 8-11-2017 had passed an order that all as to avoid conflicting judgements or any likelihood of ignoring any defence that will be produced by the accused in the court. This decision was rendered while rejecting Mian Nawaz Sharif’s plea of holding a joint trail of the three references. The application further says that this decision of AC was challenged in the Islamabad High Court that too upheld AC’s decision on 23-11-2017 with a note that when all the references were to be announced simultaneously, there was no need of a joint trail.

Khawaja Haris has further mentioned that he had filed an application in the AC that the examination-in-chief of Wajid Zia should be recorded in all the three references before he could start cross examination but that application too was rejected on 02-03-2017 with a note that when the references were to be decided simultaneously, so they shall be decided simultaneously. The court also held that the statement of Wajid Zia would be recorded one after the other in all three references. Haris has maintained that the AC has deviated from its own orders and the court has failed to honour any of the representations made by it. The application mentions that when Wajid Zia was being cross examined in al-Azizia Mills case, his cross examination was stopped in the middle and the AC ordered to record the statements of accused under section 342 of the CrPC in the Avenfield Flats case.

The application narrates that ‘as regards the observation that the undersigned was not in a position to say how much time will be consumed in completion of cross-examination of Wajid Zia when he was asked on the previous day, therefore Reference No.19/2017 was adjourned to 11-06-2018, again, this is only based on half-truths. This question was not asked because the titled Reference No.20/2017 had been adjourned on 30-05-2018 to 05-06-2018 because of the likelihood of Wajid Zia’s statement being completed by then, rather it was asked on 04.06.2018 at the spur of the moment without any reference to the reason for adjournment of Reference No.20/2017 on 30.05.2018 to 05.06.2018. Moreover, the precise question was whether cross-examination will be completed by 05-06-2018 and the undersigned had simply stated that he cannot be sure but expected to conclude it within two days. It is also pertinent to note here that while dismissing the application this learned Court did not at all refer to the representation made by this learned Court on 01-06-2018.’

Haris wrote: “On 23.05.2018, the undersigned, on behalf of his client, filed another application before this learned court for postponement of recording of remaining portion of his statement under Section 342 of Cr.P.C relating to general questions posed by this learned court as to why the prosecution witnesses have deposed against him and why the reference against him, in view of the sensitivity involved in answer to these questions, and additionally these questions too being common to all three references and likely to adversely impact the right to fair trial of the undersigned’s client. This application too was dismissed by this learned court with the observation that “this issue has already been decided and only five questions are remaining to be answered.’ In this manner this learned court proceeded to record the statement of the accused under section 342 of Cr. P.C in the titled Reference No.20/2017, while putting Wajid Zia’s statement on hold in the other two references. Thus, proceedings in reference No. 19/2017 for recording Wajid Zia’s cross-examination were firstly adjourned to 21-05-2018, and, thereafter, till after the recording of statement under section 342 Cr.P.C. in Reference No.20/2017. So much for recording of statement of Mr. Wajid Zia in Reference Nos. 18 and 19 of 2017 soon after recording of his statement in Reference No. 20/2017 as observed by this learned Court in order dated 20-03-2018. That the statement of all the accused in the titled Reference No.20/2017 under section 342 Cr. PC was thereafter having been completed on 30-05-2018 and the said reference was been adjourned for final arguments to 05-06-2018. It is pertinent to add that the undersigned was not present in court on 30-05-2018, and his client was represented on the said date by his pleader. Nor had this court even referred to its earlier orders passed on 08-11-2017 and 02-03-2018 emphatically representing that all three references shall be decided together. Nor was any reference made by this learned court to the order dated 23-11-2017 passed by the learned Division Bench of the IHC while fixing the titled Reference No.20/2017 for final arguments independent of the other two References. This is notwithstanding the fact that at each stage where the undersigned’s client apprehended that this learned court was on course of departing from its own earlier orders, grievances on his behalf had been appropriately and repeatedly raised.”

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