Two-member HC bench to hear Nawaz, others’ appeals if filed
HC to decide appeal in 30 days
SC 2009 judgment may give room of non-appearance to stay unaffected by 10-day requirement
NAB court convicts not entitled to benefit from remissions
LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law Captain (r) Safdar are left with only 10 days to file an appeal against their conviction in the Avenfield reference case.
The National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) of 1999 Section 32 (a) requires an appeal to be filed within 10 days after the announcement of the decision at a high court (HC) of the respective province where the decision is given. In case Nawaz Sharif decides to go in the appeal, it would most likely be at the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
The law requires at least a bench of two high court judges nominated by the chief justice of the respective high court to hear the appeal and decide the matter within 30 days, and not later than that.
The NAB court is mandated to give a copy of the decision within three days of the decision, however, that has already been given to all three convicts.
As per the law, Nawaz and others would be considered absconders unless they do not surrender before the police, in which case they would not be able to file appeals.
This may result in his case being time-barred due to the lapse of 10 days in which he has to file an appeal.
However, in 2009, the then Supreme Court’s chief justice and incumbent Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (r) Nasirul Mulk ruled in Nawaz Sharif v The State that appearance of the convicted in a criminal appeal within the specified time under the law is important, however, the Rule 4 of the Supreme Court Rules of 1980 does give the court the power to extend the time for appeal in case the circumstances are so that the convict cannot appear before the court in person.
In the abovementioned case, Nawaz Sharif had filed an appeal against his conviction in the hijacking case, in which he was convicted by Lahore High Court (LHC), after the lapse of eight years although the law required him to file an appeal within 30 days.
The court said that in case the circumstances are extraordinary, such a relief could be provided to the convict.
However, it was also said that such non-appearance should not be based on the personal bias of the convict against the court. According to the SC’s said judgment, there must be a hurdle present for the convict in coming back to the country, and should not only be based on personal unwillingness.
Nawaz Sharif received a presidential pardon in the above-mentioned case, and it was ruled by the SC that such a person only gets immunity from the consequences of such conviction, however, is still considered guilty by law until not declared otherwise.
It is worth noticing that those convicted by NAB court convicts are not entitled to benefit from remissions as ruled by the SC in Human rights case no. 4115, 2007.