ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday while allowing former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s petitions set aside accountability court’s order dated October 19 against him.
A two judge bench comprising Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani while remanding case back to the accountability court directed to hear the parties at length and decide the matter afresh in line with section 17-D of National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) and applicable laws and pass a speaking order on the matter.
The bench announced its two-page short order after hearing the arguments of the litigants, and would announce detailed order with reasons later.
PML-N President, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif moved IHC through his duly authorized attorney Asif Saeed Kirmani and a legal team challenging three different charge sheets framed by the accountability court on October 19 in the Avenfield property and Azizia Steel Mills references and requested the court to try him under a joint-charge instead of three different.
On Thursday’s hearing , Azam Nazir Tarar counsel for the petitioner apprised the bench that accountability court dismissed application of his client for framing a joint charge sheet in three references which was violation of fundamental right provided to Nawaz Sharif under Article , 4, 9, 10-A and 25 constitution of Pakistan.
Tarar argued that there was no precedent in NAB history to file different references on same charges and to support his argument he cited Sindh High Court’s decision in which it had clubbed 49 references in connection with NATO Containers.
He pleaded that Supreme Court in its judgment in Panama Papers case did not direct the NAB authorities to file three different references.
He said that each of the three references were supplemented by the same nine volumes constituting the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report, while six out of the nine witnesses in Reference No. 18/2017 were the same as six of the thirteen cited in Reference No. 19/2017 and two out of ten witnesses in Reference No. 20/2017 were common to Reference Nos. 18/2017 and 20/2017.
The allegations as per the Investigation Reports framing the basis of the References, the petitioner’s defense vis-a-vis the allegations in each of the three References was substantially the same, Tarar added.
Under such circumstances it was evident that only one Reference could be brought against the petitioner on basis of the allegations made in each of the aforenoted three References and Nawaz Sharif could only be tried once on the basis of the said allegations.
He alleged that order of the accountability court was based on gross misreading, non-reading of facts and misconstruction of law on which it was purportedly based.
He added that the impugned order passed by the accountability court on October 19, had been passed in unholy haste and without adverting to law and mentioning reasons and was liable to be set aside.
The counsel requested the court to declare the accountability court’s decision illegal and sought direction for the trial court to combine three references against him into one, adding that there should be one trial on one charge instead of separate cases.
He also requested the court to halt the accountability court proceedings of the three references until a single reference would be filed adding that petitioner had no other adequate alternative remedy available to his client.
Sardar Muzafar Abbassi, Deputy Prosecutor National Accountability Bureau (NAB) objected and said that references were filed following the Supreme Court directions as apex court directed NAB to file references instead of filing a single reference adding that there was no connection of three references with each other as each one based on different grounds and timings.
NAB prosecutor pleaded that review petition of Nawaz before the apex court had already been dismissed, and charge sheet also be framed so the instant petition should be dismissed.
Subsequently, the bench after going through the arguments reserved judgment which was announced later allowing three applications of the PML-N’s president Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.
It is pertinent to mention here that the accountability court is hearing corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau against Nawaz and his family members, as well as Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, in light of the Supreme Court’s order in the Panama Papers.—APP