LAHORE: The Supreme Court has extended the deadline given to the accountability court of Islamabad for the completion of trial in corruption references against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law.
A two-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, on Sunday also allowed Mr Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz to visit his ailing wife Kulsoom Nawaz in London.
Taking up an application moved by judge Mohammad Bashir of the accountability court, the court granted one-month extension to the trial court. The previous deadline given to the court for concluding the trial expired on June 9.
Appearing on behalf of the former premier before the SC at its Lahore registry, Advocate Khwaja Harris said that at least six more weeks were required to complete the proceedings.
Ousted PM allowed to visit ailing wife in London
Initially, CJP Nisar observed that the trial court could be given only 10 more days to decide the cases.
He said the proceedings in the corruption references could be held on Saturdays and Sundays too.
The CJP said the apex court wanted the accused persons and the nation come out from “this mental suffering”.
While turning down the defence counsel’s request for a six-week extension, the CJP told him that the court would however allow his clients, if they wanted, to visit ailing Kulsoom Nawaz in London.
“If they want to go to see Ms Kulsoom Nawaz, they can go,” said the chief justice.
Referring to criticism against the judiciary by the former prime minister, CJP Nisar noted with regret that they [the Sharifs] hailed courts only when a decision came in their favour and criticised it if a decision came otherwise.
“The court can allow them to go even on your verbal request,” the chief justice remarked while addressing the lead defence counsel in Avenfield Property and other references against the Sharifs.
When Advocate Harris pointed out that this issue was not before the bench, the CJP observed that the apex court had powers to do justice.
About his request for the six-week extension, Mr Harris told the bench that he could not work on Saturdays and Sundays.
“If I can work on week holidays then why can’t you? What kind of legal practice are you doing that you cannot sacrifice time even for important cases,” said CJP Nisar while responding to the senior counsel. “We should not make the justice rush,” replied Mr Harris.
The chief justice then extended the deadline by a month, leaving it on the accountability court to decide the timings and days for the hearings.
Earlier in March, the Supreme Court had granted a two-month extension to the accountability court to conclude the proceedings. However, the trial court failed to complete its proceedings within the given timeframe. Finally, the apex court gave a one-month extension to the trial court enabling it to complete the proceedings by June 9.
The trial court has yet to record statements of star prosecution witness Wajid Zia and two other investigations officers in the references of accumulating properties beyond known sources of income.
The defence counsel would start cross-examination after the testimony of the prosecution witnesses.
Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2018