ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday adjourned hearing of retired captain Mohammad Safdar’s plea, seeking his release, till Aug 13 when the bench will take up petitions of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz for suspension of the accountability court’s verdict against them in the Avenfield properties reference.
An IHC division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the petition filed by Capt Safdar, who has been convicted by the accountability court and handed down one-year imprisonment, while his father-in-law Nawaz Sharif and his wife Maryam have been handed down 10-year and seven-year jail term, respectively.
The same bench on Tuesday suggested that since Capt Safdar was undergoing one-year term and had been in jail for about one month, his case might be taken up on Wednesday.
Decides to take up former MNA’s plea with similar petitions of Nawaz, Maryam
The court said that since Mr Sharif and Ms Maryam had been awarded comparatively longer sentences, their cases might require deeper appreciation of facts, hence, it was decided that the case related to Capt Safdar might be treated as a separate one due to his short sentence.
The same bench had accepted the appeal of Mr Sharif for transfer of his case from the court of accountability judge Mohammad Bashir to another court.
The counsel for Capt Safdar, Amjad Pervaiz, contended before the court that in the cases where trial court awarded short sentence, superior courts granted relief even without examining merits of the case.
He referred to some judgements of the superior courts in support of his argument.
Even otherwise, the lawyer argued, Capt Safdar was accused of witnessing the trust deed which had been termed fake by British forensic expert Robert William Radley for being written in Calibri font, which was not commercially available when the document was prepared in February 2006.
Advocate Pervaiz claimed that the font was not only available even well before February 2006, but the forensic expert himself was also using that font prior to its formal launch.
He said that the trial court had deleted the charge related to the trust deed from the charge-sheet but convicted Capt Safdar for the same reason.
According to the counsel, the accountability judge had convicted Capt Safdar without giving any detailed reasoning as the 174-page judgement mentioned him in just a single line where he was awarded one-year imprisonment for witnessing the trust deed and another one-year term for not cooperating with the National Accountability Bureau.
NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi, on the other hand, raised multiple objections to the maintainability of the petitions seeking suspension of sentences.
According to him, since the appeals against the conviction of the three accused had been admitted for regular hearing, the accused might not be allowed to avail alternative remedy through writ jurisdiction.
After the conviction, the Sharif family had challenged the verdict by filing regular appeals against conviction. For instance relief, they also filed petitions under Article 199 of the Constitution for suspension of sentences.
The prosecutor pointed out that the petitioners had not impleaded the NAB chairman or the accountability court against which they were seeking relief.
At this, the bench directed Capt Safdar’s counsel to amend the petitions accordingly.
The court adjourned the hearing till Aug 13.
Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2018