ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended for two months the deadline for the accountability court hearing three references against the Sharif family.

The court also extended three months’ time to conclude trial in the assets case against former finance minister Ishaq Dar.

The three-judge bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising by Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh and Justice Ijazul Ahsan took up the pleas, filed by NAB and the accountability court judge.

During the hearing, Additional Prosecutor General Akbar Tarar appeared before the bench. He shared the data about the number of prosecution witnesses, who recorded their statements and who have yet to appear before the accountability court for this purpose.

The bench; however, asked him that how much time will be required to conclude the trial, adding that a substantive part of the trial has almost done.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan noted that the accountability court judge gave reasons why the trial was not finalised but he did not seek specific time to conclude the trial.

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Tarar stated that neither prosecution nor defence is responsible for the delay in the trial. He said they are unaware of defence witnesses in this case.

He said three references may be concluded in two months but the fourth reference — against former finance minister Ishaq Dar — will take more time as he has been declared an absconder, in addition to three more accused were also nominated in his case.

Meanwhile, the court wondered how Ishaq Dar was elected in the Senate when he has been declared an absconder. Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed that when someone is declared an absconder he losses all his rights. “Therefore, the right to contest elections is also stripped away.”

However, some experts say now after the amendment to the Election Act 2017, an absconder can contest election. They also believe that the accountability court is likely to issue its judgment on the matters during the caretaker government’s time.

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The top court has granted three months extension in the Ishaq Dar case, and two months extension for the Al-Azizia Steel Mill, Flagship Investment and Avenfield Apartments references.

Former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar, and sons Hassan and Hussain Nawaz are all accused in the references filed by National Accountability Bureau.

An accountability court last year declared the former finance minister a proclaimed offender after he failed to appear before it despite repeated summons.

A warrant was also issued for his arrest after he missed several court appearances on charges that he had amassed wealth beyond his known sources of income.

Dar has denied all charges, as has former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who also faces corruption cases after being ousted by the Supreme Court in July.