The Supreme Court on Friday extended till December 24 the deadline for the completion of National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar granted the extension but only after assailing Sharif's counsel Khawaja Haris for his "repeated requests for more time" and "deliberately prolonging the case".
Haris had sought further time after apprising the top judge that the arguments were still being presented in the accountability court.
"Is someone telling a fairy tale in the accountability court?" asked the chief justice. "The debate should be time-bound.
"You have held the entire nation and the court hostage," he told Haris. "Why do you try to make the case lengthy? Is this the level of your practice? Why type of a big lawyer are you?
"Don't take a case up, if you can't complete your work on time."
"I don't have the same amount of energy as you have," replied the counsel, who offered to conclude the debate in the court. "Have you received a complaint from the accountability court," he asked the judge before adding that "I could even quit the case".
"You want to quit the case to create more difficulties," the chief justice opined. "I will not let you boycott the case."
The counsel, when asked to give a final time and date, initially agreed to wrap up his argument in "10 working days" but later sought an additional three days — to which the courtroom burst into laughter.
The court granted Haris his request and directed him to conclude his argument till December 17. Meanwhile, the accountability court was instructed to conclude the case by December 24.
On Nov 19, the apex court had given another extension of three weeks to accountability court-II of Islamabad to decide two references — Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment — against the Sharif family.
A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Nisar had observed that further extension to the trial court will not be granted after the [three-week] deadline.
The trial court judge, Arshad Malik, had filed an application seeking extension in the deadline pleading that the references were about to conclude. However, he said, it was not possible to close the trial within the deadline previously given by the apex court.
Advocate Khwaja Harris Ahmad appeared on behalf of the Sharif family and requested the court to allow more time for the disposal of the references.
Earlier on Oct 12, the court had granted an extension to the accountability court to conclude the references by Nov 17.
In July, an accountability court had decided the Avenfield reference against the Sharif family, handing down 11-year imprisonment to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, eight years to his daughter Maryam Nawaz and one year to her husband retired Capt Muhammad Safdar.