ISLAMABAD: The issue of using Calibri font in a trust deed produced by the daughter of the former prime minister – deemed fabricated by the Joint Investigation Team in the Panama Papers case – was relegated to cold storage on Wednesday after an accountability court removed the portion pertaining to the font from the charge-sheet of the Avenfield Apartments reference.
The accountability court accepted Maryam Nawaz and Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar’s application for altering the charge-sheet to exclude the Calibri font issue. Judge Muhammad Bashir held that the Calibri font issue can be taken up after the reference concluded.
“Offence mentioned at serial No 3(a) of the schedule of NAO 1999 has been altered,” the couple’s counsel Amjad Parvez told The Express Tribune. Pervez said that the court could take up the matter after the final judgment if it found any forged documents during the trial.
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Maryam and Safdar had filed the application before the court, stating that framing of charges about the “use of Calibri font in the trust deed at this juncture is a violation of the Supreme Court’s July 28 judgment”.
On October 19, Judge Muhammad Bashir framed charges against Maryam, Safdar and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Avenfield Apartments reference.
“A false, fabricated trust deed dated February 2, 2006, in Calibri font was filed whereas no such font was available for such purposes … in that year,” read the charge-sheet.
“That deed was signed by accused Maryam Nawaz as well as co-accused Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar. By filing such declaration, you both tried to mislead the investigation agency.”
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The counsel for Maryam and Safdar asked the court that the matter of bearing false evidence should be taken upon the pronouncement of judgment. “The framing of charges at this stage is illegal and without jurisdiction,” he said.
Citing the investigation report, Pervez said the investigating officer recommended filing of reference against petitioners and three others on allegations of assets beyond means under Section 9(a) of NAO, 1999. He said the NAB chairman had filed the reference under sections 9(a)(iv)(v)(xii) and serial No 2 of the schedule of the NAB ordinance.
But, he maintained, perusal of the charge reflected that in addition to offences mentioned in the reference, the accountability court also proceeded to frame charge in terms of the offence mentioned at serial No 3(a) of the schedule of NAO 1999.
'Yeh bik gayi hai gormint'
Citing the Supreme Court’s July 28 judgment, Pervez said that framing of charge pertaining to an alleged false and fabricated trust deed by using Calibri font was a violation of the judgment itself as the trial had not yet concluded and no such issue had arisen before the trial court.
Quoting relevant portions of the SC judgment, he said: “In case the accountability court finds any deed, document or affidavit filed by or on behalf of the respondent(s) or any other person to be fake, false, forged or fabricated, it shall take appropriate action against the person(s) concerned in accordance with law.”
NAB prosecutors opposed the request, insisting that the court should take cognisance of any false document during the proceedings.
Following arguments, the court accepted the application and observed that it would take up the matter after final judgment.
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