IHC rejects plea for publication of proclamation against Nawaz in UK papers

Published October 20, 2020
This May 2020 file photo that went viral on social media appears to show former prime minister Nawaz Sharif sitting with his granddaughters at a roadside cafe in London. — Twitter/File
This May 2020 file photo that went viral on social media appears to show former prime minister Nawaz Sharif sitting with his granddaughters at a roadside cafe in London. — Twitter/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by the federal government seeking publication of proclamation against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in two newspapers in the United Kingdom.

An IHC division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard the petition.

Additional Attorney General Tariq Mehmood Khokhar submitted a compliance report relating to publication of proclamation issued in Al-Azizia and Avenfield properties references against Mr Sharif in Dawn and Jang newspapers. He argued that since Mr Sharif is in England, the proclamation may be published in The Guardian and Daily Telegraph.

Registrar office asks foreign secretary to display proclamation in vicinity of Nawaz’s residence in London

The high court turned down the request with an observation that since the legal requirements of issuance of proclamation had been fulfilled, there was no need to publish the same in British newspapers.

Meanwhile, the IHC registrar office wrote a letter to the foreign secretary, asking him to execute/display the proclamation in the vicinity of Mr Sharif’s residence in London through the Pakistani High Commission in the UK. According to the letter, the proclamation “shall be read out some conspicuous place of the town in which Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif ordinarily resides in the UK. One copy shall be affixed at some conspicuous part of the residence in which Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif ordinarily resides in the UK”.

It said a copy “shall be affixed at some conspicuous part of this court-house” and another copy “shall be produced before this court on the next date of hearing i.e. November 24, 2020, with reports received on the proclamation, proceedings conducted and for statement regarding the subject matter”.

It may be mentioned that accountability court judge Mohammad Bashir had days before the general elections in July 2018 convicted Nawaz Sharif in the Avenfield properties reference and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. His daughter Maryam Nawaz was sentenced to seven years in prison for abetment and his son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar to one year.

In December 2018, accountability court judge Arshad Malik convicted Nawaz Sharif in Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference and sentenced him to seven years in prison. Judge Malik was later dismissed from service over misconduct.

The IHC granted bail to Mr Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt Safdar in September. Nawaz Sharif, after his conviction in the Al-Azizia reference, was sent to jail but released for eight weeks on medical grounds. The bail-granting order lapsed while the former premier was in London.

The IHC had in September fixed the appeals against conviction of Mr Sharif in Al-Azizia and Avenfield references. Initially, the appeals were fixed for Sept 9, but the registrar office later changed the hearing date to Sept 1.

The IHC bench rejected Mr Sharif’s applications seeking hearing in absentia and issued his non-bailable arrest warrants. The court then issued his proclamation giving the former premier final opportunity to join the proceeding before confiscating his properties.

However, the accountability court of Islamabad has already confiscated movable and immovable properties of Nawaz Sharif because of his absconsion in Toshakhana reference.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2020

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