Dismissal of appeals

IHC dismisses Nawaz Sharif’s appeals against his convictions in two corruption references filed by NAB

June 27, 2021

The Islamabad High Court has dismissed Nawaz Sharif’s appeals against his convictions in two corruption references filed by NAB, declaring that the three-time former prime minister is a fugitive and therefore loses his rights guaranteed under the Constitution, including the right of audience before a court of law. The high court cited a 1985 Supreme Court judgment in one Hayat Khan case to base its judgment on, announced on Thursday. Thus Sharif’s jail sentences of 11 years and seven years, respectively in the Avenfield and Al Azizia Steel Mills references by an accountability court, are upheld.

Apparently a reason for Sharif to worry, the IHC verdict, according to many a legal expert, has provided a fair bit of relief to the PML-N supremo as his appeals have been dismissed irrespective of the merits of the case – something that does not exhaust his right to appeal before a high court. The IHC judgment says it in the following words: “Appellant may file an application before this court, as and when he surrenders or is captured by the authorities, for decision of the appeal on merits. Needless to observe that the said application, if and when is made, shall be decided in accordance with law.”

The high court has, however, decided that the appeals submitted by the two co-accused of Sharif – his daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (retd) Safdar Awan – in one of the cases will be heard separately. But legal experts believe that in the absence of the principal accused, hearing the appeals of the co-accused would make no sense.

Sharif has been in London since November 2019 after the PTI government had removed his name from the Exit Control List in the wake of a Lahore High Court order that allowed the former premier to travel abroad for four weeks for medical treatment. However, despite the passage of a year and half, Sharif has yet to return to the country to face the court cases against him. Sharif’s continued absence from the country has raised pretty justified moral questions on the person of somebody who has thrice served as the country’s as prime minister. Sharif must return to the country without any further delay and face courts.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2021.

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