IHC dismisses NAB plea for concluding Maryam’s appeal in 30 days

Published October 15, 2021
In this file photo, former premier's daughter and vice president of PML-N Maryam Nawaz speaks to the media in Lahore. — DawnNewsTV screengrab
In this file photo, former premier's daughter and vice president of PML-N Maryam Nawaz speaks to the media in Lahore. — DawnNewsTV screengrab

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Thursday dismissed an application filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) seeking day-to-day proceedings to conclude hearing of Maryam Nawaz’s appeal against her conviction in Avenfield apartments reference in 30 days.

An IHC division bench comprising Justice Amer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani issued a written order of the hearing conducted on October 13.

The bench discussed the NAB application seeking a decision on Ms Nawaz’s appeal and after due deliberation concluded that since the National Accountability Ordinance had set a time frame for the trail court to decide the reference in 30 days and since there was no provision or set time frame for disposal of an appeal, the bureau’s application was filed without any legal backing, hence the court dismissed the same accordingly.

The bench, while hearing NAB’s petition seeking cancellation of bail granted to PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz, grilled the anti-graft watchdog over its ignorance that her counsel had already concluded the arguments. NAB sought cancellation of Ms Nawaz’s bail for allegedly obstructing the legal process in swift disposal of her appeal against her conviction in the Avenfield properties reference.

“Are these the grounds for seeking cancellation?” Justice Mohsin Kayani asked NAB prosecutor Usman Cheema.

“When a convict disrupts the court proceedings, he/she loses the right of getting relief of bail,” the prosecutor said, adding that Ms Nawaz had deliberately delayed the otherwise swift disposal of the case.

Justice Kayani reminded the prosecutor that he was perhaps unaware about the fact that her counsel had concluded the arguments on the appeal and the ball was now in NAB’s court.

Justice Amer Farooq said the defence counsel was of the view that this was a case of no evidence and it was now NAB’s turn to substantiate the allegations against them. However, he observed that the court was keeping this application pending and would take it up again on November 17, when the appeal of Ms Nawaz would also be heard.

In the petition, NAB criticised the PML-N leader for her activities and gestures in the courtroom and outside the court’s premises. For example, referring to a previous hearing, the petition stated: “When she arrived in the court, she was so late that proceedings for the day were almost concluded…she entered the courtroom, she did so in such a casual and apathetic manner that it appeared as if she was entering one of her political gathering.”

Furthermore, it stated: “She has treated this honorable court as a political theater, packing the courtroom to the hilt with her party workers, loyalists and officials who all bend over backward in their quest for sycophancy towards convicted Respondent No. 1. Maryam Nawaz greeted the hangers-on present inside the courtroom much to the chagrin of this honorable court.”

The anti-graft watchdog also expressed its worries over her interaction with the media. “Convicted respondent turns the courtroom into a press club with her giving interview to journalists, reporters and vloggers present inside the courtroom…at the end of the court proceedings, convicted respondent without fail holds press conference in the precinct of the court making incendiary comments towards high-ranking officials and NAB,” the petition said.

Talking to the media after appearing before the IHC bench on Wednesday, Maryam Nawaz criticised NAB for filing what she termed ‘frivolous’ petition that was focused more on her movements than the legal grounds.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2021

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