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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday disposed of a petition filed by the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law challenging the indictment of the Sharif family in the London properties reference.

The accountability court will indict the former prime minister, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar in the Avenfield Properties reference today (Friday).

This was the third petition filed against the order of the accountability court, which has been hearing four references against Mr Sharif, his children and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar since September 26.

The IHC dismissed all three petitions after a few minutes’ hearing without even issuing notices to the respondents – the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the accountability court judge.

On the directions of the Supreme Court, the bureau had prepared three references against Mr Sharif, his sons Hussain and Hassan, daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt Safdar. The fourth reference was filed against the finance minister.

The apex court has directed the accountability court to conclude proceedings within six months.

Accountability Court Judge Mohammad Bashir on Oct 9 supplied a copy of the reference and a 53-volume report to Ms Sharif and her husband and decided to indict Mr Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on Oct 13.

Earlier, the same judge had indicted Mr Dar less than 48 hours after supplying him with the requisite documents.

Mr Safdar, through his counsel, contended before the court that under Section 265-C of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the accountability court could indict an accused at least seven days after supplying them copies of the reference and related documents.

A division bench consisting of Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the petition.

Mr Safdar’s counsel Amjad Pervez argued that he could not read the 5,000 page, 53-volume report in just three days. Even otherwise, he said, an accountability court gives a minimum of seven days to read the copy of the complaint and related documents before framing charges.

When the bench asked the counsel whether there was any judgement of the superior courts referring to the framing of charges after seven days, the counsel replied in the negative.

However, he asked the bench to restrain the trial court from framing charges until next week.

But the bench declined the request, saying the high court could not stop the trial court’s functioning for this reason. The court termed the petition “premature”, but directed the counsel to raise the matter before the accountability court, adding that the judge of the trial court would pass an appropriate order.

In the petition, Mr Safdar stated that he and his wife were in London to attend to his ailing mother-in-law, who has been undergoing cancer treatment.

According to the petition, Mr Safdar and his wife were voluntarily returning from London to Pakistan to join proceedings of the accountability court when, on Oct 9, the petitioner was arrested at the airport. However, he was released after he furnished the surety bond.

On the same day, the court fixed Oct 13 for the indictment of Mr Sharif, his daughter and her spouse. Since Mr Sharif is already in the UK to tend to his ailing wife, the court will frame charges against him through a pleader.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2017

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