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ISLAMABAD: A division bench of Islamabad High Court (IHC) has been reconstituted to hear petitions filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and retired Captain Mohammad Safdar seeking suspension of the sentences awarded to them in the Avenfield properties references.

According to the “Roaster of sitting [of judges] with effect from Aug 13 to Aug 17”, the division bench comprises Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb.

Though senior puisne judge Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui is also available as per the duty roaster, he was not included in the bench.

Since July 17 when the IHC took up petitions of the Sharif family against the conviction and seeking suspension of the sentences, this is the third bench that would take up the case.

Initially, the bench was headed by Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani followed by Justice Aamer Farooq and this time by Justice Minallah. Interestingly, Justice Aurangzeb was member of all the three benches.

Justice Minallah has recently authored landmark judgments on matters related to fundamental rights, including the issue of missing persons. He was on summer vacations from July 12 to Aug 10.

The bench, comprising Justice Farooq and Justice Aurangzeb, last week allowed a petition seeking the transfer of two pending references against Mr Sharif - Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment - from the court of accountability judge Mohammad Bashir to another court.

Subsequently, the references have been transferred to accountability judge, Mohammad Arshad Malik, who has summoned Mr Sharif and star prosecution witness Wajid Zia for Aug 13.

Last week, the IHC bench adjourned hearing a plea seeking the release of retired Capt Safdar till Aug 13 when the bench would take up the petitions of Mr Sharif and his daughter filed for the suspension of the verdict against them in the Avenfield properties reference.

Capt Safdar has been sentenced by the accountability court to one year imprisonment in two counts while Mr Sharif and Ms Maryam were awarded 10 years and seven years jail terms, respectively.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2018