ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Saturday challenged an Islamabad High Court (IHC) judgment, allowing two of its references against deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif to be transferred to another accountability court.
Accountability prosecutor-general filed a petition in the Supreme Court on behalf of the NAB chairman against the August 7 IHC order.
Questioning the maintainability of the petition for the transfer of references, the petition contended that in view of the apex court’s Panama Papers judgment through which a monitoring judge had been appointed to oversee the proceedings, reasonable apprehensions of all parties concerned have largely been alleviated.
NAB appointed Ahmad Nawaz advocate for filing separate petitions against the transfer of NAB’s Al-Azizia, Hill Metal Establishment, Flagship and other companies’ references from the court of Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir to the court of Judge Arshad Malik.
Judge Malik has been hearing references in which Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head Wajid Zia was being cross-examined in the Al-Azizia reference.
On July 6, Judge Bashir had convicted the deposed prime minister, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar in the Avenfield Apartments reference and sentenced them to 10, seven and two years in imprisonment, respectively.
During the last hearing, counsel for former prime minister Khawaja Haris had accused Judge Arshad of “record tampering” while cross examining the JIT head in the Al-Azizia reference.
Haris alleged that Judge Malik changed Zia’s statement on the instance of NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi without providing his client an opportunity to contest the prosecutor’s assertions.
NAB had filed three references against members of the Sharif family in line with the Supreme Court’s order of July 28 last year.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Nawaz wondered if it was not imperative that the judge who recorded depositions of witnesses was better equipped to understand their testimonies.
He insisted that the successor judge would neither be acquainted with earlier proceedings nor would he be fully aware of the demeanour of the witnesses and arguments made on the miscellaneous applications.
This, he said, would ultimately cause delays and violate the SC deadlines.
Citing Judge Bashir’s letter to IHC’s chief justice, the counsel pointed out that he (Judge Bashir) had stated that he would have no objection if the references were transferred to any other court.
The IHC bench, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, had ordered to transfer the cases keeping in view the judge’s letter.
Ahmed wondered if the IHC had correctly construed the letter’s contents and whether the judge had sought to be recused.
He also questioned if adjudicating similar proceedings and giving decision in accordance with the law barred a judge from hearing similar references.
Moreover, he said, the IHC had transferred the cases after hearing the application for four days through a short order.
“No actual and specific bias or prejudice was highlighted during the course of arguments,” he maintained.
He asserted that the IHC had disregarded the clear cut directions given by the apex court for the just disposal of the references which had been transferred through an impugned order.
NAB requested the apex court to set aside the IHC order of August 7 and Judge Bashir be allowed to continue the remaining proceedings in the references.