–Judge Bashir says only the high court has mandate to order shifting of cases to other courts
ISLAMABAD: The accountability court on Thursday rejected a petition seeking the transfer of the Al-Azizia corruption reference against the Sharif family from Judge Muhammad Bashir’s court.
The hearing went underway in the presence of Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi where the counsel asked for more time to present a copy of the apex court’s order for an extension in concluding the corruption references against Nawaz and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.
The hearing was then adjourned till 12 pm.
As the hearing resumed, the NAB prosecutor said, “The Supreme Court’s extension order is yet to be received.”
To this, the judge asked what the apex court’s order entailed.
“A six-week extension was granted by the anti-graft body to wrap up the corruption cases against the accused,” Abbasi said.
The judge remarked that he was yet to see the Supreme Court order.
Following this, Haris requested the court to issue an order on the transfer request.
“I do not have the mandate to transfer the reference after indictment; only the high court does,” Judge Bashir remarked while rejecting the petition.
The defence further requested the hearing to be adjourned till Tuesday so it can gather the relevant material for it.
The NAB prosecutor, however, argued that Judge Bashir should hear the case as he had indicted the accused and the hearing had been presided over by him.
“We should see justice getting served too,” said Nawaz’s lawyer, adding that the matter had been raised in the Supreme Court to bring it to the apex court’s attention.
The hearing has now been adjourned till July 17.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members are facing three corruption references in the accountability court — Avenfield Properties, Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investments — in which they are accused of money laundering, tax evasion and hiding offshore assets.
The Supreme Court had originally set a deadline of six months to conclude the cases, which ended in mid-March but was extended for two months after the judge requested the apex court.
Later, the deadline was extended to July 10.
On July 10, the Supreme Court extended the deadline in the high-profile case for the fourth time, granting Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir a six-week extension to conclude the corruption references.