–Advocate Tarrar says repeated delays in announcement have made verdict suspicious
ISLAMABAD: The legal fraternity in the country hinted that the accountability court decision in Avenfield case will cause a serious damage to the politics of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) ahead of the 2018 general elections.
The court on Friday, in its Avenfield reference verdict, gave ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif 10 years, his daughter Maryam Nawaz 7 years and Captain Safdar 1-year jail time for owning assets beyond income, purchase of the high-end properties in London and not cooperating with NAB.
Pakistan Today talked to prominent legal brains across the country about the recent verdict and asked them about the delay, and the way forward for Sharif family now.
Former attorney general of Pakistan Irfan Qadir said, “If you look at the entire case, you’ll be confronted with an array of unusual happenings like the formation of the joint investigation team and direct orders to the NAB chairman. NAB head didn’t look into the legality of the court order and other happenings add to the mystery of the whole process,” adding that the whole dilly-dallying will cause a serious damage to the next elections, he added
“The Sharif family has to file the appeal once they return to the country. The question is whether the appeal will be heard as routine or will be fast-tracked. Even if it is fast-tracked it will take weeks, way beyond the elections that are all set to be held at 25th,” he further said.
Senior Supreme Court Advocate and member of Pakistan Bar Council Azam Nazeer Tarar said that the repeated delays made the judgment suspicious. “The judge could have announced the judgment to a short order and issued the detailed judgment, the convicts were not before him,” said Tarar adding that such delays are more of an anomaly rather than a routine occurrence.
While replying to a query whether monitoring judge from Supreme Court had a role to play in the verdict, he responded, “The monitoring judge had no role whatsoever in the delay, however, the role of the public prosecutor is very unfortunate as he felicitated NAB chief and chief justice.”
“They’ll file an appeal in Islamabad High Court, however, for that they need to come in person and surrender themselves before the court. The second course is that they boycott the proceedings all together which is very unlikely’ he said when asked what choices are now available adding that Judge Bashir should excuse himself from hearing two other decisions.”
Notable lawyer and columnist Saroop Ijaz was of the view that it is the discretion of the judge to announce the verdict at a time of his choice. “However, since the case had a lot of national and international spotlight on it, so maybe he didn’t want to make any mistake. Even then it is unusual and such delays of half an hour, two hours don’t happen,” he said.
When asked about the timing of the decisions, Saroop said with certainty that the case has political implications. “It would be best if the case had been wrapped up in the time frame originally given by the Supreme Court and it wouldn’t have been dragged near the time of elections,” he said.
On what lies in the offering for Sharif family, he said that they have 10 times to file an appeal and, in the meanwhile, the order will be suspended. “However, that is not the norm, the punishments are not suspended. There are two forums left one is Islamabad High Court and Supreme Court,” he concluded.