The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday said it would begin hearing arguments on PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s appeals against his conviction in the Avenfield Apartments and Al-Azizia references from November 27 (Monday).
The decision was taken by an IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb.
In July 2018, and as the then prime minister, Nawaz was handed 10 years in jail in the Avenfield properties corruption reference for owning assets beyond known income and one year for not cooperating with the National Accountability Bureau, both of which were to be served concurrently.
The Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference pertains to the case in which he was sentenced to seven years in jail on Dec 24, 2018. He was also fined Rs1.5 billion and US$25 million.
Nawaz was released from jail in March 2019, following which he left for London in November 2019 after the LHC allowed him to do so on medical grounds. The IHC had declared him a proclaimed offender in both cases in December 2020.
Nawaz then remained in London for nearly four years and only returned to the country last month. After his return from the UK, the PML-N leader had filed two separate applications for restoration of appeals against his conviction in the Avenfield Apartments and Al-Azizia references.
He had contended that while he was abroad for medical treatment, the pending appeals were dismissed for non-prosecution. The applications requested the court to revive the pending appeals for a decision on them on merit.
Last month, the court had restored the appeals.
Ahead of the hearing today, Nawaz arrived in court amid tight security. He was accompanied by brother Shehbaz Sharif and an entourage comprising senior PML-N leaders, including Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Ishaq Dar, Ayaz Sadiq and others.
As the proceedings commenced, Azam Nazir Tarar, Nawaz’s lawyer, said his client wanted to present arguments on the appeal against conviction in the Avenfield reference today.
How much time would you need to present the arguments, Justice Farooq asked, to which Tarar replied he would need four to six hours.
The judge also asked the NAB prosecutor the same question. In his response, the latter said he would need approximately half an hour. “Does this mean that NAB doesn’t want to say anything?” Justice Farooq asked.
The IHC CJ then stated that the court would begin hearing Nawaz’s arguments on Monday (Nov 27), 12:30pm.
Here, Tarar urged the bench to hear the appeals on a daily basis as the cases dated back to 2018 and 2019. He further promised that he would not waste the court’s time.
“If need be, we will hear the case on a daily basis,” Justice Farooq said, adding that regular division bench proceedings will be called off on the day of the hearing.
The judge also directed Advocate Amjaz Parvez to present arguments on Nawaz’s behalf and instructed him to prepare a summary of the case.
The hearing was subsequently adjourned till Monday.