The Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered the release of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt. Safdar from Adyala prison, suspending the sentences they received from an accountability court on 06 July 2018. The Islamabad High Court concluded the hearing of the case today and announced its verdict shortly after reserving the judgment.
The IHC suspended the jail terms awarded by accountability court to all three of them. The accountability court handed down 10-year sentence for Nawaz Sharif and the seven-year term given to his daughter over corrupt practices linked to his family’s ownership of Avenfield flats in London. While his son in law Captain Safdar was given one year jail term.
A division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the petitions filed by former premier Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt. (retd) Safdar. It was clear from the beginning that NAB prosecutor is trying to defend a weak case and find it difficult to answer the questions of honourable judges. The NAB prosecutors failed to satisfy the Judges with their arguments.
When the hearing resumed today, NAB Prosecutor, Akram Qureshi began his arguments against the pleas. After the NAB official, Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Harris took 10 minutes to conclude his arguments. The NAB relied completely on JIT report and failed to put forward convincing arguments and evidence.
Former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and other senior lawyers declared the accountability court decision as weak and flawed. So todays judgment of IHC is not surprising for all those who were closely following this case from the beginning.
The NAB prosecutor raised objection on Justice Athar Minallah for being biased towards Nawaz Sharif and playing leading role in the judges restoration movement. He tried to bring new twist in this case. He said that the media is saying that Justice Athar Minallah had close ties with Nawaz Sharif and played an important part in the former premier’s movement.
To this, Justice Athar Minallah said: “Are your doubting my independence? That movement was regarding the supremacy of law and you can see my judgments.” He further said that in the beginning both the parties were asked that they will proceed further if they had confidence in the judges. “And now you are saying this,” Justice Athar lamented.
Justice Miangul asked the NAB prosecutor to stick to his commitment. The NAB prosecutor read out a few judgments to support his arguments. Justice Athar said: “When the second Panama judgment was announced, it was binding on all judges, but the first was not declared binding.”
However, the NAB prosecutor stated that the second Panama judgment is still under process. Justice Athar said all the judges signed the second Panama judgment. Justice Miangul added: “The first judgment did not disqualify Nawaz and it was issued by minority judges.”
Akram Qureshi stated that “this is no ordinary case” and pertains to a “web of numerous companies”. He further said that it was not possible to investigate this case in such a short period and any observation by the court in this regard will not be appropriate.
“Parents are the guardians of their children and the London flats were in children’s possession,” the NAB prosecutor said. Justice Athar observed that the defence says that the JIT head Wajid Zia did not present a chart on the known sources of income. He said even the investigating officer said he does not know who prepared the chart.
The NAB prosecutor argued that bogus deeds were made. To this, Justice Athar asked, “Were those bogus deeds registered there?” Qureshi said the deeds were only made to inform the brothers.
“Should we announce a judgment based on criminal law on assumptions? This assumption that the property is occupied by the children but the ownership is Nawaz’s? Seemingly, the accountability court’s verdict was based on assumptions,” Justice Athar observed.
Justice Miangul remarked that if Nawaz was the owner, then how was Maryam sentenced under Section 9(a)(iv). “How can there be two types of ownership at one time? Or is Maryam the rightful owner or only on paper?” he asked.
Justice Athar then explained: “Justice Miangul’s question is that they both cannot be sentenced under the same indictment charges. So how then was a sentence announced on the same indictment charges?”
Justice Miangul observed that the daughter should not have been sentenced under Section 5 and asked if Maryam’s assets are beyond her known sources of income, to which the NAB prosecutor responded in the affirmative.
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