ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday restored the appeals of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif against his 2018 convictions in the Avenfield Apartments and Al-Azizia cases.
An IHC division bench, comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, accepted the petitions seeking the revival of these appeals.
Mr Sharif, who was found guilty in both references by an accountability court in July 2018, days before the general elections, had previously been declared a proclaimed offender after leaving for the UK for medical treatment after securing bail. His appeals were subsequently dismissed.
During Thursday’s proceedings, the NAB’s prosecutor general, Ihtsham Qadir Shah, reminded the court of the references’ origins, highlighting that these were filed on the Supreme Court’s instructions after it formed a joint investigation team. Therefore, the anti-graft watchdog could not decide on its own to not prosecute the accused, he said.
Ex-PM may need to submit fresh bonds since he had jumped bail, says NAB official
Mr Shah said that while the prosecution could opt to drop case against a suspect during trial, it lost this privilege after conviction when the appeals were filed.
He elaborated that in 2022, an amendment to Section 8 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) empowered the NAB’s prosecutor general and special prosecutors to make independent decisions. He said the prosecution had to simultaneously ensure rights of the accused and assist the NAB chairman.
He also pointed out that the IHC, while acquitting Mr Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband, Safdar Awan, had made certain observations.
When the court asked about NAB’s stance on the revival of the petitions, Mr Shah confirmed the bureau had no objections.
To another question, the NAB official explained the further course of action to determine Mr Sharif’s bail. He asserted that NAB would not arrest Mr Sharif since he had voluntarily surrendered and the court order that dismissed his appeals did not state anything regarding the former premier’s custody.
However, Mr Shah said that since the court was mindful that Mr Sharif had previously jumped bail, it might require him to present new bail bonds.
Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2023