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A Lahore High Court (LHC) full bench on Monday directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file its response by Wednesday [August 29] in a petition seeking the revocation of the punishment handed to the Sharif family members in the Avenfield properties corruption reference.

On July 6, an accountability court had awarded a 10-year prison sentence to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for owning assets beyond known sources of income. His daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Safdar were also handed seven and one-year sentences, respectively.

The three-judge bench headed by Justice Shahid Waheed also announced that the court would hear the petition on a day-to-day basis. Justices Atir Mehmood and Shahid Jameel Khan were the other members of the bench.

Noting the absence of NAB's counsel in the court for the hearing, the bench ordered the bureau's prosecutor to appear before it at the next hearing and submit a reply on behalf of NAB.

"NAB is being given the final chance to submit its reply," the bench cautioned.

Before adjourning the hearing till August 29, the court rejected three separate applications filed by lawyers seeking to become party to the case.

Senior lawyer A.K. Dogar had filed the petition assailing the conviction of the Sharifs, besides challenging the existence of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.

The lawyer pleaded that ousted premier Sharif and others had been convicted by a court which had no jurisdiction because the law under which it (court) had been created was a dead law.

He urged the LHC to suspend the operation of the accountability court’s judgement for being issued by a court that had been established under a non-existent law.

Challenging the validity of the NAO, Dogar argued that it had been promulgated by military dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf under Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) No 1 of 1999 as well as Order No 9 of 1999.

He said that order No 9 was promulgated only to amend PCO No 1 of 1999 by inserting Section 5A (1) into it to the effect that limitation of 120 days prescribed under Article 89 of the Constitution to any ordinance by the president would not be applicable to the laws made under PCO No 1 of 1999.

However, he said that under Article 270-AA of the Constitution through the 18th Amendment, the PCO No 1 of 1999 was declared without lawful authority and of no legal effect. He argued that once the PCO No 1 was declared without lawful authority and of no legal effect, the amendments made to it under order No 9 of 1999 would also stand lapsed and, therefore, the limitation period of 120 days prescribed under Article 89 would be applicable to the NAO.

Advocate Dogar asked the court to declare that after the 18th Amendment and insertion of Article 270-AA into the Constitution, the NAO had ceased to be the law and became non-existent and a dead letter.

He stated that thousands of people had been suffering from the agony of proceedings under a law which was constitutionally non-existent. Therefore, he argued, all these proceedings should also be declared unlawful.