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Pleas against Sharif family’s sentences: IHC asks Tarar to present judicial precedents

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has directed its amicus curiae, Azam Nazir Tarar, to provide judicial references in the next hearing of pleas filed by Sharif family members against sentences in Panama references, ARY News reported on Wednesday.

A division bench comprising Justice Amir Farooqi and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard the pleas filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain Retd Safdar Awan to challenge the sentences in Panama references.

Maryam Nawaz and Capt Retd Safdar appeared in the hearing along with their counsel Amjad Pervez.

The amicus curiae Azam Nazir Tarar initiated the arguments and said that the court had to treat all parties equally and verdicts in different cases have an impact on others. He continued that only temporary relief was provided to the accused by suspending its sentence, whereas, disqualification was present in the specific case.

Justice Farooq remarked that the NAB had now requested to dismiss the appeals of the accused but those had already been accepted for hearing. He questioned the measures to take if the appellants were no longer available to the bench.

Justice Amir Farooqi remarked that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had sought dismissal the appeals on merit. The appeal had been accepted for hearing, however, what measures should be taken if the appellants were no longer available to the bench.

To this, Tarar said different courts had given opinions in various cases that in this situation the decision could not be on merit.

The amicus curiae gave its stance that the courts had given different opinions in such cases that the verdicts could not be given on merit. He continued that the court should not do anything that could affect the image of the judiciary as political cases were not only mentioned in law books but also in history. The disqualification and punishment of Nawaz Sharif were still valid, he added.

Justice Mohsin Akhter Kiyani remarked that Nawaz Sharif’s trial was not conducted in his absence instead he was given full opportunity to defend himself. Now there was a matter before the court regarding hearing his appeals in his absence instead of his trial, he added.

Justice Farooqi questioned whether conducting the trial of the former premier in his absence was against human rights.

Tarar argued that the acquittal of the accused would be criticised if the court concluded the sentence was wrong in absence of the accused.

Justice Kiyani remarked that Nawaz Sharif had been given the opportunity to defend himself and his trial was not conducted in his absence.

Justice Amir Farooqi remarked that two co-accused were also present in the courtroom and both of them were convicted under the same evidence. He added that the case of all accused cannot be adjourned in the absence of one.

Tarar argued that the court should let the case go ahead after the return of Nawaz Sharif or he was brought back tomorrow.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani remarked the court decision would be criticised for whatever it was, but the bench was looking for legal aspects instead of its political points.

Tarar said former judge Arshad Malik’s video scandal was also linked to the appeals, adding that Nawaz Sharif could claim on another day that it was his case.

The amicus curiae said that he will present some judicial references in the next hearing as he had requested some court decision from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Karachi.

After this, the hearing of the case was adjourned till June 23. A division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhter Kiyani heard the appeals filed by NAB, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar Awan in graft references.

During the hearing, the NAB prosecutor Jahanzeb Bharwana gave arguments that the right to listen of Nawaz Sharif was terminated due to his absence from the hearings and the former premier’s appeals should be dismissed on this stage. He added that he will also present judicial references before the high court to prove his stance.

The prosecutor pleaded with the court to uphold Sharif’s sentence in Avenfield reference besides increasing the sentence in Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference. However, no notices were served to respondents yet in the anti-corruption watchdog’s appeal against the acquittal of Nawaz Sharif in Flagship reference.

Later, the high court adjourned the hearing till June 23 after ordering to present more judicial references.

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