ISLAMABAD: Opposing the petitions seeking suspension of sentences awarded to ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar in the Avenfield properties reference, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Saturday submitted an 11-page reply to the Islamabad High Court.
A division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb hearing appeals of the three members of the Sharif family had on Thursday directed NAB additional deputy prosecutor general Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi to address in the reply the 10 questions it had framed for its understanding of the case.
Interestingly, the reply did not address these questions. Instead, NAB contended in the reply the same objections which the court has already overruled.
Accountability court judge Mohammad Bashir had on July 6 convicted the three members of the Sharif family in the Avenfield reference and announced 10-year imprisonment for Mr Sharif, seven for Ms Maryam and one for Mr Safdar.
The IHC bench was scheduled on Thursday to conclude the hearing on on petitions filed by the Sharifs seeking suspension of their sentences, but due to ‘lethargy’ of NAB officials it put off the matter till Monday (tomorrow).
The court imposed a fine of Rs10,000 on NAB for delaying the court’s proceedings.
After arguments by the defence counsel concluded, the NAB additional deputy prosecutor general had sought adjournment for a couple of days for filing a written reply which is against norms and practice of superior courts.
The IHC bench, however, allowed his request subject to the fine of Rs10,000 with a directive that the reply must be filled by Saturday.
The bureau in its reply claimed that since the petitioners had filed their appeals against their conviction, their petitions filed under Article 1999 [enforcement of fundamental rights] seeking suspension of their sentences might not be entertained.
The reply also claimed that the division bench could not hear this case since the petitioners had not filed before the chief justice an application seeking relief. The NAB reply requested the court to dismiss the petitions filed by the Sharifs.
It may be mentioned that the IHC division bench during the course of arguments asked NAB officials if the investigation officer evaluated the price of London properties and compared it with known sources of the Sharifs’ income.
The bench also asked the prosecution whether Ms Maryam, being dependent or benamidar of her father, could be convicted under Section 9(a)(5) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) which relates to the assets beyond means.
The bench, while reading out the accountability court’s verdict, asked how Ms Maryam was convicted for abetting her father for accumulating assets beyond means as the only evidence against her was a forged trust deed.
The court directed NAB to explain how the trust deed was declared forged and whether Calibri font did not exist at the time the trust deed was prepared.
The bench will hear the case on Monday.
Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018