The remarks made by judges in any case cannot be taken as final decision. Sometimes judges ask tough questions to understand the point of view of both sides. But in the cases of political and constitutional importance, the remarks made by judges become headlines and point of discussions in media. The same is happening in the hearing of NAB appeal against the suspension of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam’s sentences by Islamabad High Court.
It is against the ethics and law to speculate the outcome of a legal matter when it is subjudice and the highest court in country is hearing the case. Without speculating about the possible decision of the Supreme Court, one can get the feelings of what is in the store for former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam on the basis of today’s hearing and remarks made by the Chief justice.
There is possibility that both might end up once again in the Adyala jail to serve the remaining sentence. The situation will become somehow clear on the next date of hearing on 12 November. It appears from the remarks made by chief justice that he is not happy with the Islamabad high Court decision. So Khawaja Haris is facing an uphill task to convince the bench about the suspension of sentences.
The Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar made important observations and remarks while hearing the NAB appeals. The chief justice observed that the Supreme Court had no option but to suspend the Islamabad High Court’s ruling suspending the accountability court’s verdict against the Sharif family members in the Avenfield property reference.
The CJP gave the remarks while heading an SC bench which heard a National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) appeal challenging the IHC decision of suspending the sentences given to former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar in the corruption reference by the accountability court.
The chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar said, “Prima facie the IHC had spoiled the country’s jurisprudence by suspending an accountability court’s verdict in the corruption reference but now we have no other option but to suspend the IHC”s ruling.”
“Doctors have advised me rest but I am here keeping in view the importance of the case, as it is not a matter of an individual but a matter of principle. My life is for my country and I will work for it,” he remarked.
Justice Nisar observed the IHC used strict language in the judgment like “such decision could not be maintained.” Whether the IHC was the final court, he asked.
He said the Sharif family members had adopted four different versions in the case; sometimes they presented a Qatari prince’s letter and sometimes something else.
When it was established that the London property belonged to the Sharif family then it was their duty to reveal the sources of their income which were used to purchase the flats. “Money does not grow on trees,” he added. The CJP observed that the IHC did not bother to look into the judicial precedents.
Addressing Khawaja Haris, counsel for the Sharifs, the CJP said prima facie the high court decision seemed to be non-maintainable. The CJP asked Khawaja Haris to point out any illegality in the accountability court’s verdict that could cause suspension of the sentence. In his career, he had never seen such a judgment like that of the IHC, he added.
Justice Nisar questioned as to how the IHC could say there were ‘defects’ in the accountability court’s verdict. Khawaja Haris responded that the accountability court in its verdict did not mention the value of the property in question. To establish that a criminal offence had been committed, the NAB prosecutor should have proved that the Sharif family’s assets were beyond their known sources of income, he added.
To this, the CJP said it was the respondents’ duty to explain that the apartments were not bought from the amount which was not beyond their known sources of income.
The court directed to the lawyers of NAB and Sharifs to submit written arguments before 12 November and adjourned the case till 12 November.
If one goes with the remarks and observations made today by chief justice then it becomes easier to predict the decision. But judges speak their mind in the final judgment. For the opponents of Sharif family, it is written on the wall that Nawaz Sharif and Maryam will end up in Adyala jail.For them remarks made by chief Justice is a clear indication of likely decision.
But for the supporters of Sharif family, it will be premature to draw conclusion on the basis of remarks. For them, it was just the preliminary hearing so judges asked questions and made their observations. So nothing can be said affirmatively about the final judgment. So let’s wait and see for the final decision of the Supreme Court on the NAB appeals.
Everyone has the right to discuss and even criticise a judgment once it announced and made public within the limits of decency and legality. Supreme Court and higher courts must not scandalise on the basis of certain judgments. One can like or dislike a judgment but sanity should prevail.
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20 February, 2019