ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members have been summoned by the accountability court on September 19 with regards to two corruption references filed against them by the National Accountability Burea (NAB).
Sharif and his sons Hussain and Hasan have now been summoned in the Al Azizia Steel Mills reference whereas the three accused, along with Sharif’s daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar have been summoned on the same date in the London flats reference.
On Wednesday, the court had summoned Nawaz and his two sons on Sept 19 in the flagship companies reference.
According to the summons, the former premier has been asked to appear in person at 9am on Sept 19. It says that Nawaz Sharif’s presence is necessary to respond to the charges against him.
The summons were sent to Nawaz Sharif’s homes in Raiwind and Model Town.
NAB had on Sept 8, filed three references against the Sharif family and one against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the accountability court in light of the Supreme Court’s orders in the Panama Papers case verdict of July 28.
On Wednesday, NAB resubmitted all four references in the accountability court after the court registrar had raised objections over technical errors present in the references. The flagship companies’ reference was resubmitted earlier, after which the summons was issued, and the remaining three references were resubmitted by NAB later in the day.
After the submission of the flagship companies’ reference, the registrar had sent for hearing the reference to the court of Judge Mohammad Bashir.
NAB’s Rawalpindi branch prepared references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and the nearly dozen companies owned by the Sharif family. The bureau’s Lahore branch prepared a reference on the Sharif family’s Avenfield apartments in London and another against Dar for owning assets beyond his known sources of income.
SHARIF FAMILY IN LONDON
However, sources close to the Sharif family told Pakistan Today that Nawaz Sharif and his sons would not attend the court hearing as they are in London to attend Kulsoom Nawaz, who is undergoing throat cancer treatment in a London hospital.
“Nawaz Sharif and his sons, through their lawyers, will apply for a leave of an unforeseen period of time so that they can attend ailing Kulsoom in London,” the source said.
Former Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) president Barrister Ali Zafar, however, told Pakistan Today that it was compulsory to attend the court when summoned.
It would be interesting to see that to what extent the court can grant leave to the Sharif family. In case of any application sent by the family’s lawyers, it would be entirely on the court to either accept it or reject.
“Normally the applications to avoid the attendance in the court do get considered, if the defendants in the case are either dead or on the deathbed. But in this case, the scenario is different as defendants would make a request on compassionate grounds due to the health conditions of an ailing family member,” he said.
If convicted, the accused can face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets. NAB has stated that the references should be treated as interim references and it could file supplementary references later.
It said the accused had been given ample time to explain and provide evidence regarding the accumulation of these assets but “they did not join investigation before NAB on the pretext of a review petition already filed before the Supreme Court of Pakistan against July 28 verdict”.
A five-judge larger bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa is already hearing two separate review petitions moved by the ruling family, challenging decisions given by a five-member bench and a three-member bench of the apex court.