Court spells out reasons for Nawaz’s conviction in NAB case

Updated December 26, 2018

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In this file photo, former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif leaves after appearing in a court in Lahore, Pakistan. — AP
In this file photo, former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif leaves after appearing in a court in Lahore, Pakistan. — AP

ISLAMABAD: In a detailed judgement in Al-Azizia reference, Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik of the accountability court expressed concern over rampant corruption in society that he said had reached its climax and therefore a stern action was the need of the hour.

“It is a matter of concern for us all that corruption has been rampantly increasing for the past two decades in society and has reached…its climax at present,” observed the judge providing reasons for convicting former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment reference. The judge acquitted Mr Sharif of corruption charges in the Flagship Investment Company reference.

Take a look: Back to prison

Earlier on July 6, Judge Mohammad Bashir of the accountability court had awarded 10 years imprisonment to the former prime minister, seven years to his daughter Maryam and one year imprisonment to his son-in-law retired captain Mohammad Safdar in Avenfield properties reference.

Application of law with equal intensity to both the rich and the poor will enhance public trust in institutions, explains 131-page judgement

For eradication of corruption and corrupt practices, stern action was the need of the time, the judge stated and explained that while keeping this objective in mind, the legislature had enacted the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999, the preamble of which held accountable all those individuals accused of such practices and matter ancillary.

But the observations did not go well with some legal experts. One lawyer requesting anonymity described the comments as “extraneous”, explaining that it was not the job of a trial court to come up with such descriptions rather to simply decide the matter after hearing the two sides while confining itself to available evidence.

He elaborated that the Supreme Court in exercise of its extraordinary jurisdiction in suo motu cases usually explained what necessitated it to intervene in such matters. To substantiate his point, the lawyer cited the explanation given by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar at a symposium on water on Oct 20. The chief justice had explained that the apex court had raised the issue of water security in pursuit of its duty to enforce fundamental rights because the biggest fundamental right was the right to life which was not possible without water.

In the detailed verdict, the judge of the accountability court stated: “It is also matter of observance that by resorting to corruption and corrupt practices one set of society has amassed unprecedented wealth and accumulated huge assets while the other segment of society has drowned down forced to lick the clay. This marked disparity in different segments of the society has badly impaired the moral fibre of society on both the ends.

“The rulers to whom the reins of the nation were given expecting to take rectification measures also failed to fulfil their obligations rather their hands seem to be smeared with ill-gotten wealth.

“As such, to my mind, it is obligation of all concerned in law enforcing agencies especially the courts to keep preying eyes vigilant minds and forceful hands to give a strong jolt to the persons found guilty of such practices. For achieving this objective the rules, procedure and law is to be applied even filling the dots to achieve the object of the law going in line with the intents of the legislature manifested in the ordinance itself. If it is done, even now it could promote the culture of rule of law, parity and equality. Application of law with equal intensity to both the rich and the poor will enhance the public confidence and trust in the institutions tackling law and justice.”

The verdict explained considering that Nawaz Sharif from 1985 to 2017 held some of the highest executive offices in both the federal and provincial governments, including those of chief executive of Punjab and of Pakistan, the court was satisfied that he was one of the most influential members of the monolithic and tightly connected Sharif family and that after the death of his father in October 2004, he was for all practical purposes, the head of and most influential member of the Sharif family.

Also upon the death of Mian Mohammad Sharif, his entire estate including funds, properties and assets devolved to his legal heirs, including Nawaz Sharif, the verdict said.

Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2018