ISLAMABAD           -          The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday granted one-day exemption to Nawaz Sharif from personal appearance in his appeals against the Al-Azizia reference verdict.

A division bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiani conducted hearing of the petitions and deferred the proceedings for two weeks after accepting Nawaz’s plea seeking one-day exemption from hearing.

During the hearing, NAB Additional Prosecutor General Jahanzeb Bharwana submitted the reply in Nawaz Sharif’s plea for adding five more witnesses in which he opposed by disclosing that such witnesses were irrelevant and do not have any concern with such case.

He added that the case was in appeal where no need of such witnesses was necessary as such witnesses were forensic experts that had no concern with such matter.

However, Nasir Bhutta Advocate, the counsel for Nawaz Sharif, urged the court for testimony of such witnesses as it was the fundamental right of his client to avail all options to defend him. Later, the court deferred the hearing for two weeks where arguments from both the parties would also be concluded on the next hearing.

The Accountability Court (AC) Islamabad convicted the former prime minister in Al-Azizia/Hill Metals Establishment corruption references filed by NAB and awarded him rigorous imprisonment for a term of seven years on December 24, 2018 in the said reference. Sharif had moved the appeal through his counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmad.

He stated in the application that he was convicted under section 10 of NAO, 1999 read with schedule thereto and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a term of seven years along with a fine of Rs 1.5 billion and 25 million dollars.

Sharif contended that from a bare perusal of the said judgment, it is evident that the findings recorded therein and forming basis for the conviction of the petitioner under section 9(a)(v) of NAO, 1999 read with section 10 ibid, are based on no evidence.

He argued that he was convicted and sentenced on the basis of inadmissible evidence, unproven documents and statements of proxy witnesses which is not permissible in the eye of law.

The petitioner maintained that it is apparent on the face of the record that prima facie, the conviction and sentence recorded against the petitioner is illegal and unwarranted by law and consequently his incarceration in jail pursuant to his impugned conviction is tantamount to his being held in custody without lawful authority.

While referring the legal lacunas in the judgment of AC, Sharif requested the court in his appeal to acquit him of all the charges framed against him in 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 hearing objections by the accused.

Therefore, he maintained that the said judgment, conviction and sentence are 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.