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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday turned down petitions challenging the decision of an accountability court regarding the auction of properties and land owned by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq heard the identical petitions of Muhammad Ashraf Malik, Mian Iqbal Barkat, and Aslam Aziz against the verdict of AC Islamabad, which had rejected their pleas against the auction of the properties.

During the hearing, the counsel for the petitioners contended that the accountability court was bereft of jurisdiction and that the petitioners had established their interest. However, the counsel conceded that the respective agreements relied upon were not executed with Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

The IHC verdict noted that it is an admitted position that the person who had executed the agreements had no power of attorney because such a document was not placed on record. It added, “The petitioners were not able to establish their locus standi in the context of having an interest in the properties ordered to be sold by the accountability court. The question of jurisdiction, therefore, becomes inconsequential.”

The bench also said, “We have carefully perused the impugned order and we are satisfied that it does not suffer from any legal infirmity requiring interference.” “The petitions are without merit and, therefore, accordingly dismissed,” said the IHC verdict.

The AC Islamabad had dismissed the petitions challenging the confiscation and auction of properties owned by former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in Toshakhana corruption reference. The petitioners had contended that the accountability court had ignored various facts in deciding the case about the auction of the properties and land of the former prime minister.

They prayed before the court to turn down the decisions of the trial court dated October 1, 2020, April 2021, and June 2021, regarding the property auctions. The petitioner Ashraf Malik stated that the impugned orders include agriculture land measuring 88 kanal situated in Moza Ferozwala, District Sheikhupura, in the list of properties.

Malik claimed that he purchased the land through sale agreement dated 29-5-2019 and paid a sum of 75 million rupees through banking channels to Nawaz Sharif. He added that due to arrest of Nawaz Sharif, the sale deed was not executed for which the petitioner filed suit for specific performance of agreement to sell on 16-9-2019 in the court of senior civil judge at Sheikhupura.

Malik contended that the factum of transfer of money from the account of petitioner to the account of Sharif and sale of land in question was well within the knowledge of investigating officer of the NAB. He further said that no notice was ever given to him and the same has been passed by concealing true facts by the NAB from the AC Islamabad.

“Thus, impugned order is illegal, unlawful and violative of settled principles of law and is a result of mala fide, as petitioner has not been afforded any opportunity of hearing,” maintained the petitioner. Similarly, the petitioner Barkat challenged the order to auction of House No 135, the Upper Mall, Lahore, and claimed that the house in question was among those non-corporate assets of Ittefaq Group, which were settled during overall settlement among seven families who were members of Ittefaq Group, and the said house came to the share of family of Barkat.

He continued that since final settlement among all family members, petitioner has been in the possession of this house and is residing with his own family members. The third petitioner, Aslam Aziz, challenged the order to sell certain immovable properties including land measuring 105 acres and 10 marla situated in revenue Estate Manak tehsil and district Lahore.

He claimed that the land in question is within the boundary wall of residential area of Nawaz Sharif at Jati Umra and “possession of land in question is with petitioner as a lessee/Patedar of land owned by Nawaz Sharif on the basis of lease agreement /Patanama.” He stated that the land consists of family graveyard of Sharif and orchids of kinnow, grapefruit, lemon, fig, grapes, guava, jaman, mango and many others, while various species of trees have also been grown on this land, which, in fact, is a botanical garden spread over 38 acres of land.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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