ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), Thursday, restored Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Quaid Nawaz Sharif’s appeals against his conviction verdicts in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia cases.

A division bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb announced the verdict which it had reserved earlier after hearing the arguments in Nawaz’s petitions seeking restoration of his appeals against the sentences awarded to him in the two graft cases.

During the hearing, NAB Prosecutor General Ehtesham Qadir Shah stated that the court had directed the watchdog’s chairman to provide an opinion on the bail pleas. He informed the court, “We had an extensive discussion regarding the petitions.”

Qadir Shah said focusing on the Avenfield case that the reference could potentially be withdrawn if the verdict had not been announced. He also emphasized that there was a possibility of withdrawing the reference during an ongoing trial.

He maintained that according to Pakistani laws if an appeal is accepted against a decision, the reference cannot be withdrawn. He added that if an appeal is submitted, a decision must be reached, and it cannot be dismissed based on non-compliance.

The NAB PG further said that the reference had been filed in accordance with the Supreme Court’s order and had received approval from the NAB chairman. He added that they have read about both cases and informed the court that the Avenfield reference was filed on the Supreme Court’s order and on the same court’s order, a joint investigation team was also formed.

He highlighted that the accused would be entitled to all legal remedies if they followed the law. He continued that if a proclaimed offender surrenders, they should be granted all legal remedies.

He pointed out that the NAB had no objections to restoring appeals against Nawaz’s conviction, affirming that they will provide their opinion on the appeals once they are scheduled for a hearing.

Nawaz’s counsel Azam Nazir Tarar said that in his 30-year career, he had never witnessed a case where a proclaimed offender appeared before the court, yet his right to appeal was not reinstated. “The moment an accused appears in court, the warrants against them stand cancelled the very moment,” he said.

Amjad Parvez, counsel for Nawaz, also stated that the court had scrutinised his client’s role in the appeals against the sentences of Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retired) Safdar.

He explained that the court had concluded that making a decision on the appeals of the remaining two accused was impossible “without evaluating Nawaz’s character”.

At this, Justice Aamer asked the NAB prosecutor general whether he sought a decision on Nawaz’s appeals based on merit. He responded that yes, please. Nawaz Sharif has surrendered and is currently at the disposal of the court.

The chief justice asked the NAB prosecutor if he intended to apprehend the PML-N leader. The NAB prosecutor responded, “Not at all, as I have already stated this previously.” He emphasized that prior court orders related to Nawaz did not include any mention of arrest, stating that the most the court can do is to obtain new surety bonds from the PML-N leader.

After hearing the arguments, the court reserved the verdict on the petitions and later announced the same by restoring his appeals in both cases.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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Parvez Oct 27, 2023 12:13pm
... as expected. But is justice being served ?
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