Court turns down Nawaz‘s plea for stay on accountability court proceedings
ISLAMABAD, Nov 14 (SABAH): The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday turned down deposed prime minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s plea to grant a stay on an accountability court’s proceedings in three corruption references filed against him and the Sharif family. The accountability court will hear the three references filed against Nawaz Sharif and his family members by NAB today (Wednesday).
The court however issued a pre-admission notice to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for Monday over Sharif’s petition challenging the trial court’s decision against merger of the separate NAB references.
During the hearing, Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Azam Nazir Tarrar requested the court for a stay on proceedings before the trial court but the IHC’s divisional bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani turned down the plea.
Nawaz Sharif challenged the decision earlier on Tuesday through his lawyer Azam Nazir Tarar, stating that the verdict was given in haste and the accountability court did not take into account the points in the earlier IHC verdict.
Hearing the plea, IHC Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani dismissed Nawaz’s request to suspend the accountability court’s hearing.
“The accountability court did not take the IHC’s previous detailed judgement into account while deciding against clubbing the three references together,” the application argued.
“The accountability court gave its verdict in a rush and thus it should be deemed void by the IHC,” it declared.
Tarar requested the court to begin proceedings on the application within the day. The hearing was held late in the afternoon, during which the judge hearing the petition asked what the impact of deciding in favour of the petitioner would be.
“All proceedings on the references will be declared null and void,” Tarar told the court, “and the National Accountability Bureau will have to begin the process anew to file a consolidated reference.”
When reminded that the petitioner had a similar appeal pending in the Supreme Court, Tarar said it was based on different grounds.
The IHC subsequently issued a notice to NAB and scheduled the next hearing for November 20.
Earlier too, Nawaz Sharif had requested the accountability court to club all the references together. However, Accountability Judge Bashir had rejected the plea on Nov 8.
In his written order, the judge said: “Section 17(d) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 provides a mechanism which could be adopted or not, depending on the circumstances of each case.”
The prosecution or the accused could not insist on conducting a joint trial of offences even if they were similar, the order noted. The accused/applicant could not justify clubbing of all the three references for a joint trail in the circumstances of the cases, the written order said.
Therefore, in order to avoid conflicting judgments or any likelihood of ignoring defence that will be produced by the applicant separately in each reference, all the three references will be decided simultaneously.
The court had further said that the request for single trial had been made in view of the convenience of the accused. The court noted that in the case of joint charges, the trial facts of each case could get mixed up. Moreover, the offences alleged in the three corruption references were not of same kind, the judge had noted.
Sharif’s counsel had sought a joint trial, arguing that the main allegation in all three corruption references was same — that the assets under the names of Hassan and Hussain Nawaz were actually owned by Sharif. The defence counsel had further argued that the three references had been supplemented by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report, and six out of nine witnesses were common in references 18 and 19, while two witnesses out of 10 were common in all the three corruption references.
Sharif’s counsel had argued that the alleged offence was the same under Section 9(a)(v) of the NAO in all three corruption references. This was the second time that the accountability court had dismissed an application submitted by Sharif seeking a joint trial.