ISLAMABAD - A division bench of the Islamabad High Court Monday rejected the National Accountability Bureau’s plea to take up appeals of the Sharif family, seeking suspension of their sentences, after summer vacations.

The bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb conducted hearing of the appeals filed by former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar against their sentences in Avenfiled reference and dismissed NAB’s request to take up appeals seeking suspension of their sentence after summer vacations of the court.

At the start of proceedings, Justice Athar asked from Sharifs’ lawyer Khawaja Haris and NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar that if they had confidence in the present bench.

Both of them replied in affirmative, saying that they reposed trust in the bench after which the division bench started hearing of the appeals.

The NAB prosecutor requested the judges to take up convicts’ appeals seeking suspension of their sentences after summer vacations. However, the bench turned down his request saying their appeals will be fixed for hearing as per routine and there will be no delay.

During hearing, the counsel for Sharif said that accountability court had given its verdict without determining the worth and sources of income for the purchase of Avenfiled Apartments of the Sharif family. At this, Justice Athar asked that what the price of Avenfiled Apartments was when the same were purchased back in 1993. To this, Sardar Muzaffar answered that he did not know about prices of the apartments.

“I do not know the price of the apartments, but I can say that flats were purchased through corruption money,” he contended. He added: “We have proved through documentary evidence that Maryam is the beneficial owner of the Nelson and Nescol”.

Justice Athar asked that if the top anti-graft body had any documentary proof other than Calibri font, it should be presented in the court. To this, the NAB prosecutor said that documentary evidence pertaining to Maryam’s beneficial ownership and concealment of the assets had been presented in the court. He added there was also evidence that trust deed was also fake. Justice Athar said that the trial court had declared Sharif as the owner and not his daughter Maryam.

Justice Athar asked that if you are relying only on Calibri font or you have more evidence regarding trust deed to prove it as bogus. The prosecutor replied that they had more evidence in this connection.

During the hearing, Justice Miangul Hassan directed the media to keep in view the facts while reporting this case. He added that they had not announced their verdict yet and the media should avoid giving a false impression. He continued that the bench would bar media from coverage of the case if needed so.

Later, the bench deferred hearing of the case till August 15 (tomorrow) for further proceedings.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, and Capt (Retd) Muhammad Safdar had filed the appeals in the IHC challenging the accountability court (AC)’s verdict in the Avenfield property reference and made the state through Chairman, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as respondent.

In the appeals, it was stated that Nawaz Sharif was convicted under Section 9 (a)(v) of NAO, 1999, and Serial No.2 of the Schedule to the NAO, 1999, and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a term of 10 years, and to fine of 8 million pounds for the offence under Section 9 (a)(v), and to one year imprisonment for the offence at Serial No.2 of the schedule, with stipulation that both the sentences shall run concurrently.

The appeals added that Maryam Safdar was convicted under Section 9 (a)(v) and (xii) of the NAO, 1999 and for the offence at Serial No.2 of the schedule, and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for seven years with fine of 2 million pounds under Section 10 the ordinance for the offence under Section 9 (a)(v) and (xii) ibid, and to one year simple imprisonment for offence at serial No.2 of the schedule, with stipulation that both sentences shall run concurrently.

Similarly, Capt (Retd) Muhammad Safdar was convicted for offences under Section 9 (a)(v) (xii) read with Section 10, and for the offence at Serial No.2 of the schedule, and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for one year under Section p (a)(v)(xii) read with Section 10, and to one year under Serial No.2 of the schedule.

The appellants contended that from a comparison of the allegations made in the initially filed interim reference dated 8th September, 2017 and the allegations made and formulated in the supplementary reference dated 12th January 2018, it was abundantly clear that the same were radically different from each other. As such, it was incumbent on the learned trial judge to have re-framed the charge after the receipt of supplementary reference, and his failure to do so too vitiates the trial, especially since, as is evident from the record of the case, the learned trial court proceeded to record the conviction of the accused on the basis of the allegations as contained in the supplementary reference, and not on basis of the allegations to which he was put to notice as per the charges framed against him on 08th November, 2017.

They were of the view that the impugned judgment, conviction and sentence were based on no evidence.

Therefore, it was prayed that the court should set aside the impugned judgment, conviction and sentence awarded to the appellants by the accountability court Islamabad and they might be acquitted of all the charges framed against them in the reference.