ISLAMABAD: The Islam­abad High Court (IHC) on Monday dismissed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s petition requesting the court to club three references filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) under directions of the Supreme Court.

Separately, the accountability court of Islamabad started the process of confiscating the properties of Mr Sharif’s sons Hussain and Hassan.

The IHC bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani announced a single-line order dismissing Mr Sharif’s petition within five seconds after the court official called out the case — Nawaz Sharif vs NAB. The petition had sought to club references related to the Avenfield Properties, the Flagship Investment and Al-Azizia Mills.

The detailed order in this case is expected on Tuesday (today).

Earlier on Nov 23, the IHC bench had reserved its judgement on the petition. NAB had filed the three references in the accountability court in September, under directions of the Supreme Court passed in the verdict on identical petitions by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami Emir Sirajul Haq and Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

Azam Nazir Tarrar, counsel for Mr Sharif, had pointed out in court that many witnesses in the three separate references were common and the evidence against Mr Sharif’s family was based on a report prepared by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) constituted on orders of the apex court. He had claimed that there were precedents where superior courts order had clubbed references against suspects in similar situations.

On the other hand, NAB opposed clubbing of the references saying that the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case had specifically directed anti-graft watchdog to file three references against Mr Sharif and his relatives.

The ex-PM had also filed an application before accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir. However, the trial court rejected the plea seeking a joint trial of all three references.

The accountability court also started the process of confiscating properties belonging to Mr Sharif’s sons. On Oct 12, the accountability court had issued a proclamation against Hussain and Hassan and warned them to surrender within a month.

Following directives of the accountability court, NAB pasted the proclamation order on the premises of the Federal Judicial Complex (FJA) where the accountability court is located.

In the proclamation, Hussain and Hassan were asked to surrender and join the proceedings in the references — the Flagship Investments, the Al-Azizia Mills and the Avenfield properties.

Earlier on Monday, Mr Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar appeared before accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir.

Before commencement of the proceedings, Mr Sharif had a brief discussion with his lawyers Khawaja Mohammad Haris and Amjad Pervez inside the courtroom.

Mr Haris informed Mr Sharif about various aspects of the proceedings. Although Mr Sharif has repeatedly expressed apprehensions about not being able to get fair trial, his lawyers had been optimistic about the outcome of the petition the IHC was supposed to announce on Monday afternoon.

However, after the swift dismissal of the petition, the ex-PM said wryly: “I think the judiciary might disqualify me again — even in the cases of Imran Khan and Jahangir Khan Tareen.”

Last month, the Supreme Court reserved judgement on petitions seeking the disqualification of Mr Khan and Mr Tareen for not declaring assets in their nomination papers.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2017