IHC overrules registrar office's objections on Maryam's fresh plea in Avenfield reference

Published October 6, 2021
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz speaks to the media outside the Islamabad High Court. — DawnNewsTV
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz speaks to the media outside the Islamabad High Court. — DawnNewsTV

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday overruled the objections raised by the registrar's office to a miscellaneous petition filed by PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz seeking annulment of the verdict in the Avenfield Apartment reference.

A two-judge IHC bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani also heard Maryam and her husband retired Captain Mohammad Safdar's appeals against their conviction and an application filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) seeking hearing of their appeals on a daily basis.

The court overruled the objections to Maryam's fresh application and directed to fix it for hearing. It adjourned the hearing on all appeals for October 13.

During today's hearing, Maryam's counsel Irfan Qadir dispelled the impression that the PML-N leader was against the country's armed forces. He said that a "misunderstanding" was being spread since yesterday.

"Our [security] agencies are the best in the world and our judges are respectable," he said. He added that the anti-graft watchdog's application for hearing the appeals on a daily basis was non-maintainable and urged the court to dismiss it.

New petition

On Tuesday, Maryam had filed a new application, along with “extremely relevant, simple and clear-cut facts”, with the IHC seeking annulment of the verdict in the Avenfield Apartment reference.

Accountability Court judge Mohammad Bashir had on July 6, 2018 — 19 days before the general elections — convicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband retired Captain Mohammad Safdar in the Avenfield Apartment reference and handed them jail terms of 10, seven and one years, respectively, for owning assets beyond known sources of income.

They had filed appeals in the IHC against the conviction. The court had on Sep 18 the same year suspended their sentences and released them on bail.

NAB is now seeking expeditious disposal of the appeals in 30 days.

Maryam's latest application was filed "in consequence of certain extremely relevant, simple and clear-cut facts which have come to light after the pronouncement of judgement and sentence" in the case, according to a copy of the petition available with Dawn.com.

"These facts which even otherwise are quite well-known are being brought to the notice of this honourable court for enabling it to decide this matter expeditiously, justly, fairly and in accordance with law," the miscellaneous application filed through Advocate Irfan Qadir said.

The IHC registrar office, meanwhile, had raised two objections to Maryam's new application. According to the registrar, Maryam had made the same plea in her application as she did in her primary appeal challenging her conviction in the Avenfield case.

The office further said "Maryam Nawaz can adopt fresh grounds in the appeal only with the court's permission."

In her application, Maryam stated that the entire proceedings that resulted in her conviction were a "classic example of outright violations of law and political engineering hitherto unheard of in the history of Pakistan".

She also attached a reference to the speech made by former IHC judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui at the District Bar Association, Rawalpindi on July 21, 2018, wherein he had claimed that the country's top intelligence agency was involved in manipulating judicial proceedings.

"The ISI officials had approached the chief justice asking him to make sure Nawaz and his daughter should not be bailed before the elections," the petition said, quoting an excerpt from ex-judge Siddiqui's speech.

Speaking outside the courtroom on Wednesday, Maryam reiterated the allegations made in her petition.

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