NAB’s plea for day-to-day hearing of Maryam’s appeal dismissed

IHC says provision to conclude trial in a month doesn’t apply to appeal stage


Rizwan Shehzad   October 15, 2021
SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

The Islamabad High Court on Thursday dismissed the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) request to conduct day-to-day hearing of the appeals of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her husband Capt (retd) Mohammad Safdar and give a decision on the matter within 30 days.

A two-judge bench, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, rejected the plea, noting that “the application is misconceived”.

The provision for day-to-day hearing and concluding the trial in a month applies to trial and not to the appeal stage, the court observed.

“Section 16(a) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 mandates that the trial is to be conducted on day-to-day basis and concluded within 30 days,” the bench noted. “No such parallel provision exists for decisions of appeals.”

The anti-graft body had contended that the appeal was pending since 2018, so it should be decided within 30 days.

The court also issued a notice to NAB on Maryam’s application seeking acquittal from the Avenfield reference on the grounds that “no evidence existed” in the case against the appellant and there were “grave illegalities” in the filing of the reference against the procedure mentioned in Section 18 of the NAO, 1999.

Read More: Maryam wants party factions to recognise PML-N’s strength

In addition, the order noted, Maryam’s lawyer Irfan Qadir had delved into the merit of the appeal and submitted that “not an iota of evidence” was present about the culpability of the appellant.

Qadir had pointed out that the charges against the appellant was under Section 9(a)(v) of the NAO 1999, which did not stand proven as no document was submitted to the trial court.

He had also contended that the trial court did not have jurisdiction in the matter as there was absence of jurisdictional facts. He had added that the prosecution had failed to make out a case against the appellant in the facts and circumstances.

Qadir was confronted as to whether, while deciding application in hand, all the submissions could be examined whereupon it was submitted that “patent illegalities” existed in the filing of the Avenfield reference and in the findings recorded by the trial court.

“He [Qadir] submitted that he will agitate the ground of political engineering in the filing of the reference against the appellant and recording  conviction against the appellant including the contents of the application, if the court so directs,” the order noted.

Subsequently, the court issued notice to the respondents on application, which the counsel for NAB accepted. While accepting the notice, the court noted, the NAB counsel submitted that the arguments advanced by Maryam’s counsel pertained to merit of the appeal and was a matter of record.

The court also allowed the NAB lawyer time to assist it.

The bench also clubbed NAB’s petition against Maryam and her husband’s post-arrest bails with other appeals related to the Avenfield property reference.

The court would take up the case on November 17 for hearing together.

On July 6, 2018, an accountability court had convicted former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law in the Avenfield properties reference and handed them jail terms of 10, seven and one years, respectively, for owning assets beyond known sources of income.

(With input from APP)

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