The Supreme Court will hear the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) appeal against the suspension of sentences handed to Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz — in the Avenfield reference — next week on January 14.
The appeal will be heard by a five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel.
The accountability court in July last year had announced the verdict in the Avenfield properties corruption reference filed by NAB, handing the ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif 10 years as jail time for owning assets beyond known income and 1 year for not cooperating with the bureau.
His daughter was given 7 years for abetment after she was found “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father” and 1 year for non-cooperation with the bureau.
The father and daughter upon their return to Lahore on July 13 were arrested by NAB authorities and shifted to Adiala jail.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) in September, however, granted them bail after suspending their sentences.
The corruption watchdog had subsequently filed an appeal — which was accepted by the SC — in which it contended that the IHC had failed to appreciate that, through its order, it had seriously prejudiced the case of the prosecution by holding that the trial court judgement suffered from obvious and glaring defects and infirmities and that the convictions and sentences handed down to the accused might not be sustained ultimately.
Nawaz’s appeal against Al-Azizia
Earlier today, a two-member IHC allowed the former prime minister’s request for the early hearing of his appeal against his conviction in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment reference. The court directed that it be fixed for hearing within ten days.
Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani also set a petition seeking the suspension of Sharif’s sentence for hearing.
Barrister Munawwar Duggal had on Tuesday filed an application seeking the immediate hearing of the appeal against the verdict announced by an accountability court in the reference on December 24 last year.
In the application, the defence counsel pointed out that the winter vacation had ended and, therefore, the appeal against the conviction might be fixed before the available bench.
Another IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Farooq had on Jan 7 taken up Sharif’s petition seeking the suspension of his sentence. The bench, however, pointed out that since the appeal against the conviction in the Al-Azizia-Hill Metal Establishment had neither been fixed nor taken up, the petition for suspension of the sentence could not be entertained at this stage.
The IHC on Tuesday, however, released an order deciding to take up the petition.
Accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik had on Dec 24 convicted Sharif in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills Company (ASCL) and Hill Metal Establishment (HME) reference and awarded him seven years imprisonment and fined him Rs1.5 billion and $25 million.
Sharif filed a 61-page appeal against the verdict through Haris who pointed out certain ‘extraneous’ factors which accountability judges never consider while imparting judgements in routine cases.