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ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed in the Islamabad High Court on Wednesday a petition challenging the Nov 8, 2017 order of an accountability court that had deleted the charge of producing forged document in Calibri font from the charge sheets filed against ousted prime minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar.

Read: We asked the creator of Calibri to weigh in on the JIT debate

In the Avenfield London apartments corruption reference, Ms Nawaz has been facing the charge of producing before the Supreme Court an alleged forged trust deed scripted in Calibri font which, according to the Joint Investigation Team’s report, was not available in the market when the deed was prepared in 2006. The trust deed was also signed by her husband Safdar as witness.

Accountability Court Judge Mohammad Bashir had on Nov 8 deleted the charge after their counsel argued that Section 30 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) restrained the court from taking cognizance of the offences relating to false evidence, etc, before taking a decision on the case.

NAB named the accountability judge, Ms Nawaz and Captain Safdar as respondents in the petition filed on the directives of its Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal.

The petition said that in compliance with the Supreme Court’s July 28, 2017 order, NAB had filed a corruption reference against the Sharif family for acquiring expensive properties in London through offshore companies Nielson and Nescol Enterprises.

On Oct 19, 2017, it added, the accountability judge had framed charges against Nawaz Sharif, Maryam and Captain Safdar under serial number 3(a) of the schedule of NAO to which the accused pleaded not guilty. On Nov 8, 2017, the accountability court, while hearing application of Maryam and Captain Safdar, deleted the charge framed under the same the NAO schedule and recorded fresh plea of the accused.

According to the NAB petition, the trial court had issued the order in an arbitrary manner and faulty interpretation of the applicable laws. The bureau argued that Section 30 should be interpreted as permissive and empowering provision, and not prohibitory. “Section 30 is devoid of negative language and clearly confers additional powers upon a court to take cognizance of the offences of the aforementioned nature,” it said.

NAB contended that the order was based on unjustifiable reasoning as Section 30 of the NAO and serial number 3(a) of its schedule were two separate sections meant entirely for two different situations and could not be invoked as alternatives to each other. “A trial court is bound to frame charges against an accused under Section 3(a) in case of false evidence, whereas Section 30 is only a discretionary power lied with the court,” it said.

NAB requested the high court to set aside the accountability court’s order and directed it to charge Maryam Nawaz and her husband for preparing forged documents in Calibri font.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2018