The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday directed senior lawyer and PML-N Senator Azam Nazir Tarar to assist it in dealing with former premier Nawaz Sharif's pleas against the verdicts issued earlier in the graft cases against the him in the absence of the PML-N supremo from the country.
However, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) urged the court to reject the petitions filed by the former prime minister.
A two-member bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard the petitions filed by the PML-N supremo, his daughter and party vice president Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (retd) Safdar against the decisions in the Avenfield, Al-Azizia and Flagship references initiated by the NAB.
During the hearing, Justice Farooq asked Tarar about who would represent Sharif if his plea was heard.
The senator replied that courts delayed their decisions on such appeals so that the requirements of justice could be met. “Sharif's case is different from others and a representative cannot be appointed for him,” he added.
“Instead of appointing a representative for Nawaz Sharif, the court may reject the appeal over lack of representation.”
Tarar added that Sharif could have the case reopened or take another course of action in the case when he returned to the country.
Justice Farooq then asked the NAB prosecutor if Maryam’s lawyer had also asked for a delay in the case.
“There are two other appeals. How should we proceed with them?"
To this, the prosecutor, while somewhat agreeing with Tarar, noted that a representative could not be appointed for Sharif.
He asked the court to reject the former premier's pleas.
"The court can make a decision on the basis of the case's record,” he added.
Justice Kayani observed that there were also instances where the court had annulled an acquittal and handed down a sentence.
Justice Farooq remarked that the court was making efforts to ensure that all requirements of a transparent trial are met.
“We can't bulldoze everything in Nawaz Sharif's absence. We have to make a decision as per the law.”
The court later adjourned the hearing till June 9.
Sharif has challenged his conviction in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia references. Maryam her husband have challenged their sentences in the Avenfield case.
NAB, on the other hand, has challenged Nawaz' acquittal in the flagship reference. The authority also sought an increase in the sentence handed down to the former premier in the Al-Azizia reference.
The IHC earlier declared the PML-N supremo an absconder due to his absence from the proceedings of the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Avenfield reference.
Last month, the IHC had asked as to who will be the pleader for the former prime minister when the court would take up appeals against his conviction in Al-Azizia and Avenfield cases given the fact that Sharif had been declared a proclaimed offender in both the cases.
The bench noted that Sharif was now a proclaimed offender and the court wouls have to decide his appeals on merit. The IHC asked NAB to assist the court on this question.