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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court is expected to take up a request on Wednesday for the extension of a deadline set for an accountability court to complete the trial in corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members.

A period of six months given by the apex court for the completion of trial will end on March 13 — the same date when the extended term of Judge Mohammad Bashir of the accountability court in Islamabad is set to expire.

The request for grant of more time is believed to be filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor general before a three-judge SC bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan.

The other members of the bench are Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, who were part of the JIT implementation bench. Besides, Justice Ahsan was also appointed a monitoring judge to supervise NAB’s working and oversee the accountability court proceedings.

On July 28 last year, a five-judge SC bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, had disqualified the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution and ordered NAB to file four references in the accountability court within six weeks of the disqualification verdict. The bench directed the accountability court to conclude the trial within six months.

As the three-year term of Judge Bashir, who has been conducting the trial in the corruption references against Mr Sharif, his family and defunct finance minister Ishaq Dar, will end next Tuesday, the Islamabad High Court administration asked the law ministry to extend his term of service. The reason for the extension was stated to be the paucity of judicial officers, particularly in the cadre of BPS-21.

Currently, the law ministry is seized with a summary for the judge’s reappointment and extension in his term.

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2018