Verdict reserved on hearing Sharif’s pleas

IHC says accused's rights not affected even if plea is rejected as he can move top court

Our Correspondent June 23, 2021


The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday reserved its ruling on the hearing of the pleas former prime minister Nawaz Sharif', who was currently abroad, challenging the verdicts in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia references.

The hearing on Sharif, his daughter and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her husband Capt (retd) Safdar Awan's pleas was conducted by IHC judges Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani.

Senator Barrister Azam Nazir Tarar, who is assisting the court, argued that the right to a hearing was protected under the Constitution.

"As per my experience, pleas of people, who were not present for their hearing, were rejected without arguing the case's merits," he added.

Tarar further contended that a window was left open for the accused so that in case they surrendered before the court, their plea could be taken up again.

To this, Justice Kayani responded that an accused's rights were not affected even if their plea was rejected.

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"Pleas rejected on the basis of merit can still be moved in the apex court," the judge maintained.

Justice Farooq reminded Tarar that he was not representing Sharif but assisting the court so he should “strike a balance”.

Tarar replied that he was assisting the court with arguments.

The bench told Tarar that it did not matter who the appellant was as it had to follow the law.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), on the other hand, called for rejecting t Sharif's plea against the Avenfield and Al-Azizia references.

However, NAB prosecutor Jahanzeb Bharwana argued that hearing of Maryam and Safdar's pleas was up to the court.

The IHC, after hearing the arguments reserved its ruling on whether or not it should hear the former premier's plea in his absence.

On June 9, the IHC had given more to Tarar to assist it in how to proceed further with Sharif’s appeal against the Avenfield case judgment as he was abroad.

The court inquired as to how could it proceed further in the case in the absence of the appellant.

Tarar contended that the case could be heard by the court if the required documents were available.

He requested the bench to see him, the lawyer representing Maryam and Safdar and his client in the same way.

He added that as per the spirit of the Constitution and the law, the court could make a decision that opened “a clear window”.