Sunday April 14, 2024

Avenfield reference: Maryam, Safdar’s counsel says JIT misled courts

By Faisal Kamal Pasha
June 29, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Counsel for Maryam Nawaz and Captain (R) Muhammad Safdar, Amjad Pervez while forwarding final arguments in the Avenfield apartments corruption reference on Thursday said the joint investigation team (JIT) formed to probe the Panama Papers issue has not only misled the Supreme Court of Pakistan but the accountability court (AC) as well.

Amjad Pervez said that during proceeding of Panama case before the Supreme Court, the petitioner did not require any relief against Maryam or her husband. He said the Supreme Court also in the 13 questions formulated for the JIT did not issue any direction for the husband and wife even when the trust deeds were before the apex court.

Meanwhile, the accountability court granted exemption from personal appearance to Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz for one day. There will be arguments today (Friday) on the medical reports of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz for further exemption.

Continuing with his arguments, Amjad Pervez said the JIT’s Volume-X was containing the JIT’s mutual legal assistance (MLA) applications written to foreign jurisdictions. He said the JIT had requested the apex court not to make public the Volume-X of the JIT report on the grounds that it would cause prejudice to the ongoing proceedings. He said prejudice has been caused to this case due to the fact that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecution submitted before the accountability court replies of the MLAs and not the MLAs themselves.

Amjad Pervez also pointed out that as per procedure, a NAB investigation officer (IO) files an interim investigation report before the NAB’s legal wing who issues a trial-worthy certificate (TWC) and then a reference is filed in an accountability court. In this case, he said, the TWC was issued on August 31, 2017 while the IO filed interim report on September 6, 2017.

The counsel said the IO had admitted before the accountability court during cross-examination that he first sent the interim draft to the legal wing and later on he continued to record statements of the witnesses. Amjad Pervez said that both Maryam and Safdar were indicted on October 19, 2017 and on November 8, 2017, the charge was amended by deleting Serial 3 (a) of the schedule of NAB Ordinance, 1999, though the narration is still there.

Maryam’s counsel reiterated that this is a case of no evidence. He said that his client has been charged with section9(a)(iv) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 that reads “9(a) A holder of a public office, or any other person, is said to commit or to have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices- (iv) if he by corrupt, dishonest, or illegal means, obtains or seeks to obtain for himself, or for his spouse or dependents or any other person, any property, valuable thing, or pecuniary advantage.”

Citing different judgments of the superior court, Amjad Pervez said that 9(a)(iv) is not an offence of strict liability, rather it has to be proved by the prosecution. He said that a case can be treated as a ‘case of no evidence’ if evidence during reconciliation, supports hypothesis of innocence of the accused. He said no one could be convicted due to the fact that he has not explained his version. He said it is duty of the prosecution to prove their case.

Amjad Pervez also cited various judgments regarding onus of proof and said that is has certain conditions under the law that NAB prosecution did not fulfil. He said it was duty of the prosecution to provide details of the accused known sources of the income before the court and also to prove that these are disproportionate to the assets accumulated.

Amjad Pervez argued that in the case of Maryam and her husband, the prosecution was to show nexus between misuse of authority and amassing wealth in the light of judgment of Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.

Therefore, he said, the prosecution was first to establish its case against Nawaz Sharif and then the question of Benamidar or aider and abettor or beneficiary would become relevant. Amjad Pervez said that in the main reference the prosecution has taken a stance that the Sharif family was collectively involved in the acquisition of assets disproportionate to their known sources of income, while in supplementary reference, they have changed their stance altogether that Nawaz Sharif is the owner of Avenfield Apartments. In supplementary reference, the prosecution said that Hussain and Hassan Nawaz are the Benamidars. “One doesn’t become Benamidar just being children of someone and the prosecution has to prove that he/she is financially dependent,” he added.