ISLAMABAD: A two-judge bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) adjourned till Thursday appeals filed by former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Muhammad Safdar against their conviction in the Avenfield reference.
The division bench comprising Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Gul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the appeals.
Justice Aurangzeb observed that the bench will proceed with the matter as per the country’s Constitution.
At the outset of the hearing, Justice Farooq asked a NAB prosecutor to put forward his arguments on the appellants’ plea for transfer of the pending cases to another accountability court.
Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi requested the bench to first decide whether the plea is maintainable or not.
At the previous hearing on July 17, the court had issued notice to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on the appeals seeking to set aside the accountability court judgment that awarded 10 years imprisonment to Sharif, seven years to Maryam and one year to Captain (retd) Safdar.
It rejected their request to grant bail at that time and issued notice to the Bureau to submit its reply to the application seeking to suspend their conviction.
The bench directed the authorities concerned to present complete record of the Avenfield case on next hearing.
The judges also turned down a request by the appellants’ lawyer Khawaja Haris to grant a stay order, restraining Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir from proceeding with the two pending cases against his clients till the Bureau submits its response.
The counsel argued that the judge, who convicted Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law, cannot hear the other two cases against them as their arguments in these cases are similar to the ones in the Avenfield case.
Citing the state through the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman as respondent, the appellants pleaded that their sentences be set aside for being “illegal and based on no evidence, and in violation of superior courts’ judgments.”
As an interim relief, they requested the court to suspend their sentences and order their release from prison on bail until their appeals are decided.
Safdar was arrested on July 8 while the former premier and his daughter were arrested on the night of July 13 exactly a week after their conviction in the NAB case.
Sharif along with his daughter landed at Allama Iqbal International Airport from where they were taken to Islamabad on a private plane before being shifted to Adiala jail in a convoy of security vehicles.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested them as they returned from London via Abu Dhabi to face prison. Judicial magistrate Wasim Ahmed executed the warrants issued by Judge Muhammad Bashir for their arrest.
On July 6, the PML-N supreme leader was awarded 10 years in prison, while his daughter Maryam and her spouse Capt Safdar were handed seven years’ and one year’s prison term, respectively.
Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir ordered forfeiture of their properties in the Avenfield Apartments and Park Lane of London. He imposed a fine of £8 million (approximately Rs1,292m) on the former premier and £2 million (approximately Rs323m) on his daughter.
Besides, three convicts were awarded an additional one-year imprisonment, which will run concurrently for not cooperating with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).