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ISLAMABAD: A judge of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) cancelled his summer vacation to return and hear the appeals filed by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif against his conviction in the Avenfield properties reference and transfer of pending references to another court.

IHC Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb had heard the appeals while he was a member of the bench, headed by Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, on July 17.

On July 6, Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir convicted Mr Sharif in the Avenfield reference and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. The same judge awarded Maryam Nawaz seven years and retired Captain Mohammad Safdar one year in jail.

The IHC bench comprising Justices Kayani and Aurangzeb heard the appeals against conviction and after initial hearing adjourned proceedings till the last week of July.

According to the IHC’s notification of summer vacations, Justice Aurang­zeb was on leave between July 20 and Aug 5. He left on July 19, and the IHC administration notified it accordingly.

That meant that there were only two judges available — Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and Justice Aamer Farooq. The division bench that heard the cases between July 20 and July 26 had comprised Justice Siddiqui and Justice Farooq.

However, as per the roster between July 7 and Aug 3, the division bench comprised Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb. The senior puisne judge, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, has not been included in the division bench despite his availability for the coming week.

According to the IHC’s notification, “the division bench shall function from Monday to Thursday”.

Earlier, Justice Siddiqui, while addressing the district bar association of Rawalpindi on July 21, said that he had been excluded from the division bench on the demand of the ISI.

IHC Chief Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi had removed Justice Siddiqui from the division bench that was constituted to hear the appeals filed by Mr Sharif and his daughter against their conviction in the Avenfield properties reference.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) reacting to Justice Siddiqui’s allegations had requested Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar to inquire into the matter. Subsequently, Justice Nisar referred the matter to the IHC chief justice and sought a report from him.

The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) asked for the matter to be brought before a full court of the Supreme Court, while Justice Siddiqui demanded that a commission comprising of a judge who had not taken oath under dictator General Pervez Musharraf’s Provisional Constitutional Order should investigate his allegations.

Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2018