Avenfield reference: IHC dismisses Safdar’s plea against indictment by accountability court

Published: October 12, 2017
Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar. PHOTO: FILE

Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: A division bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday dismissed a petition – filed by Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar – that requested it to restrain an accountability court from framing charges against him.

The division bench, comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, said the petitioner could agitate the same before the trial court. Dismissing the petition, the bench ruled that it was premature to issue a restraining order.

Safdar had filed the petition through his counsel Amjad Pervez, contending that copies of the corruption reference and relevant documents had been provided to him on October 9 while the court had fixed October 13 for indictment, which was against the law.

Naming officials of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the accountability court judge and state officials as respondents, Safdar said that under Section 265-C of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), charges could not be framed before seven days of handing over the documents to the accused.

Graft charges: Court to indict Sharif, Maryam, Safdar on Oct 13

The accountability court is expected to indict Safdar as well as deposed PM Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz in the Avenfield Properties reference on Friday (today).

Safdar’s counsel said that the accountability court order had been passed on October 9 and the framing of charges was fixed just three days after that date.

Arguing that the accused was not given sufficient time to study allegations and prepare a plea in his defence, the counsel requested the IHC to declare the accountability court’s order illegal and without lawful authority.

According to the rulings of superior courts, non-compliance with provisions of Section 265-C was illegal, he said, adding that the indictment before the expiry of the seven-day limit was unfair.

He requested the division bench to restrain the accountability court from framing charges.Earlier, the accountability court dismissed a similar application filed by incumbent Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

Dar had challenged the accountability court’s decision before the IHC, but the IHC also dismissed his petition. On October 9, the accountability court granted bail to Maryam and Safdar against a surety of Rs1 million each.

Graft charges: Court to indict Sharif, Maryam, Safdar on Oct 13

The former prime minister and his sons, Hussain and Hassan Nawaz, were named in three references while Maryam and Safdar were only named in the Avenfield reference.

In its July 28 judgment, the Supreme Court had directed NAB to file references against Sharif, his sons, daughter and son in-law within six weeks.

NAB filed references against Sharif, Maryam, Hussain, Hassan and Safdar in Avenfield Properties in London.

References in connection with Azizia Steel Company, Hill Metal Company and Flagship Investment and other firms were only against the former PM and his sons.

On October 9, accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir had separated trial of Hussain and Hassan Nawaz from others and ordered initiating action against them under Section 87 of the CrPC to declare them absconders.

The order was issued when the two failed to appear before the court. In compliance with the court orders, notices were pasted on their properties and within the premises of the accountability court on Wednesday.

The notices also directed them to appear before the court within 30 days and warned that if they failed to do so they would be declared proclaimed offenders.

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