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August 17, 2018

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IHC sees ‘discomfort’ on faces of NAB prosecutors

ISLAMABAD: Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb on Thursday remarked that “discomfort is visible on the faces of NAB prosecutors” when NAB failed to present its arguments and sought two more days from Division Bench of IHC in Sharif family petition to suspend Avenfield reference verdict.

The Division Bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb fined NAB Rs10,000 and directed the prosecutors to conclude arguments in the case on Monday, August 20.

During the hearing, Deputy Prosecutor General of NAB Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi requested to for more time. Justice Aurangzeb remarked, “We have immense respect for you but these are crooked instructions,”

Justice Aurangzeb asked NAB prosecutor on which ground he was seeking an adjournment when the other side had already presented their arguments. NAB prosecutor replied, “I am directed to seek adjournment.”

On this, Justice Aurangzeb asked who directed him to seek adjournment. The NAB prosecutor replied that the instructions came from NAB Prosecutor General. Justice Aurangzeb asked, “Did you inform him that the instructions were unfair and against norms of propriety? How can NAB make such a request?”

There must be reasonable arguments for seeking adjournment when petitioners’ counsel had already presented arguments, he said. “This must be very embarrassing for NAB,” the bench remarked.

Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris said his client is behind the bars. Suspension petition was filed a month ago but the NAB is requesting adjournment to submit their arguments, he said. Justice Minallah remarked, “IHC normally don’t take such 8 to 10 years’ sentence suspension petitions but in this case we have decided to hear this matter; otherwise, such petitions take long delay”. He remarked, “The court had to take into consideration that the applicants were incarcerated.”

Justice Aurangzeb remarked that NAB prosecutors looked uncomfortable. “Discomfort is visible on the faces of NAB prosecutors,” he added. NAB prosecutor argued that this is his right to get adjournment. Justice Minallah remarked that the bench never denied opportunities but the request is needed to be reasonable.

The bench asked the NAB prosecutors that if they would be able to conclude arguments on Monday? Abbasi replied he would need instructions from the Bureau. Sharif family counsel Amjad Pervaiz said private parties use such delaying tactics but an institution is doing so which is beyond comprehension. Justice Aurangzeb said, “In my 18 years’ career, for the first time I am witnessing such a request of adjournment.”

When the NAB deputy prosecutor suggested recusing himself from the case, Justice Aurangzeb observed, "There were no objections when we heard the petition for transfer of the case." NAB deputy prosecutor sought time from the court to provide paragraph-wise comments.

Justice Athar Minallah imposing fine of Rs 10,000 on NAB remarked, “We are considering penalising you for wasting the court's time”. The court directed NAB prosecutors to submit written arguments and also conclude arguments on Monday (20 August).

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