ISLAMABAD    -   The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday constituted a dual bench for hearing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s appeal against his conviction in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case on September 18.

The bench comprises Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Moshin Akhtar Kayani.

The Accountability Court (AC) Islamabad had sentenced former prime minister to seven years in jail in Al-Azizia/Hill Metals Establishment corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

It will be the first hearing of Sharif’s appeal after the controversy developed over the leaked video of judge Arshad Malik in July. The video, purportedly showing the judge ‘confessing’ that he had convicted Nawaz Sharif under duress, was made public by Maryam Nawaz, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, at a press conference.

Later, the judge admitted that a video existed in which he was shown in a compromising position, but alleged that PML-N supporters Nasir Butt, Nasir Janjua, Mahar Ghulam Jilani and Khurram Yousaf had purchased this video from accused Mian Tariq Mehmood and were pressuring him to acquit Nawaz Sharif.

The judge said in an affidavit that at a social gathering attended by both Nasir Janjua and Maher Ghulam Jilani, the former took him aside and requested him to acquit former prime minister in both the references.

He further claimed that the two individuals later met him at a party and offered him Euros equivalent to almost Rs100 million and told him that they already had foreign currency worth Rs20m in their vehicle parked outside.

In the affidavit, the judge alleges that Nasir Butt told him that Nasir Janjua would make the video public soon if he did not acquit Nawaz Sharif, and that a couple of days later, Mian Tariq Mehmood visited his house and showed him the video.

Although accused Tariq Mahmood was sent to jail on judicial remand, the three suspects — Nasir Janjua, Maher Ghulam Jilani and Khurram Yousaf were released by a local court after FIA submitted a discharge report following its interrogation in the matter. Sharif had moved the appeal through his counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmad.

In the appeal, the petitioner argues that he was convicted and sentenced on the basis of inadmissible evidence, unproven documents and statements of proxy witnesses, which was not permissible in the eyes of law.

Nawaz further says that it is apparent that his conviction is illegal and unwarranted by law and consequently his incarceration in jail is tantamount to his being held in custody without lawful authority.

While referring to the legal lacunae in the judgment of AC, Nawaz requested the court in his appeal to give him a complete clean chit and drop all charges framed against him in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference No 19 of 2017.

In his petition, Nawaz maintained that the decision was based on assumptions and false interpretation of law while the evidences were misperceived and the accountability court announced the verdict without listening to his objections.

Therefore, he maintained that the said judgment, conviction and sentence were even otherwise illegal, without jurisdiction, unwarranted by law, based on inadmissible evidence and unproven documents and on misconception and misinterpretation of law and liable to be set aside as such.