ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday declared former prime minister Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender in two cases — Avenfield properties and Al-Azizia — and issued show-cause notices to his guarantors and summoned them on Dec 9.

It may be mentioned that Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz and her husband retired Captain Mohammad Safdar will also appear before an IHC bench on Dec 9 in connection with the hearing of their appeals against conviction in the Avenfield reference.

A division bench of the high court comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani recorded statements of three officials in order to complete the process of declaring Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender. The court recorded the statements of director Europe-I at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mubashir Khan and assistant directors of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Aijaz Ahmed and Tariq Masood.

Summons guarantors on Dec 9 for proceedings to attach properties pledged as bail bonds

Mubashir Khan wrote a letter to the Pakistan High Commission in the United Kingdom for displaying the proclamation in the vicinity of the residence of the PML-N supreme leader in London, while the FIA officials pasted the proclamation at his Jati Umra residence in Raiwind.

After the recording of the statements, additional prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Jahanzeb Khan Bharwana told the bench that the procedure for procuring the attendance of Nawaz Sharif had been completed and now the court might declare him proclaimed offender. He said the court might also issue show-cause notices to those who had pledged sureties to furnish the bail bonds.

Subsequently, the bench declared the former premier proclaimed offender and summoned the guarantors on Dec 9 to initiate proceedings against them under Section 514 of the Criminal Procedure Code to attach the properties pledged as bail bonds.

The prosecutor argued that the appeals filed by Mr Sharif against his conviction in Avenfield and Al-Azizia references might be dismissed as he was absconding and the court had declared him a proclaimed offender.

Justice Farooq asked the prosecutor to present case law to substantiate the argument that the superior courts had in such situation dismissed the petition without even going through merit of the case.

Mr Bharwana argued that the IHC had in a case against former president retired General Pervez Musharraf in which retired Colonel Inamur Rahim had filed a petition seeking a directive for the NAB chairman laid down procedure for proceeding against absconders.

When the court asked about the status of pending appeals of Maryam Nawaz and Capt Safdar, the prosecutor said that since the case of Nawaz Sharif had already been segregated, these appeals would be heard as per law.

However, Justice Farooq pointed out that since the facts of both cases were interlinked, the prosecution would assist the court while keeping in view this aspect as well.

With regard to two civil miscellaneous applications against former accountability court judge Arshad Malik, the prosecutor argued that these might dismissed since both the applicants — Nawaz Sharif and Nasir Butt — had been declared proclaimed offenders, while the Lahore High Court had already dismissed judge Malik from service.

“We have supervisory jurisdiction and can proceed in this matter as well despite this fact,” reminded Justice Kayani.

Mr Bharwana sought time to submit written arguments.

Justice Farooq advised him to be more careful “since there is no defence counsel at other side”.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2020

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