An Islamabad accountability court on Tuesday dismissed an application filed by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif seeking the postponement of final arguments in the Avenfield reference.
After dismissing the petition, Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir asked the prosecution to start their arguments while telling the defence counsel to challenge his order at the appropriate forum if they want to.
Earlier in the day, Nawaz had moved an application seeking the postponement of the final arguments in the Avenfield reference till the closing of the prosecution's evidence in the other two cases.
During the course of arguments, Nawaz's counsel barrister Saad Hashmi had taken the stance that Wajid Zia was the only material witness and the JIT report was the only evidence that the prosecution had.
He had said that the other two references also involved the same evidence and witness; thus, the final arguments should be conducted once proceedings in all three references conclude.
The counsel had added that if the court proceeded with the final arguments in the Avenfield reference, it would give the prosecution an opportunity to address gaps in the cases they make in the other two references — Al Azizia and Flagship Investment — which will seriously damage the defence's case.
Hashmi said that the prosecution had created misconceptions and misled the court, leading it to fix the Avenfield reference for final arguments without closing of evidence in the other two references.
He had said that “the accountability court has consistently held that all three references will be decided simultaneously."
He said that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had also observed that identical witnesses may testify simultaneously in all three cases so that there may be no chance of them improving their statements as an afterthought.
Hashmi argued that although the accountability court has to conclude the cases against Nawaz and his family within a certain timeframe, the Supreme Court had also provided that a deadline should not be an excuse to compromise the due process of law.
Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi, NAB’s prosecutor, had said on the other hand that the prosecution is ready for final arguments, but the defence appears to be avoiding and seeking arguments to postpone proceedings.
He had said that the accountability court had fixed the case for final arguments in the presence of the counsel from both sides, but the defence seemed to be reluctant to argue their case and to conclude it in the interest of justice.
He had requested the court to dismiss the application.