–Prosecutor says NAB Ord’s Section 9(b) abolished options of writ, IHC did not cite ‘hard circumstances’ under which writ was allowed
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday issued notices to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz after hearing an appeal filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the Islamabad High Court (IHC) verdict suspending their conviction in the Avenfield reference.
The court, however, decided not to issue any notice to Captain (r) Safdar over the NAB appeal.
Beginning his argument, NAB’s special prosecutor Akram Qureshi explained to the judges the basic facts and developments in the case.
“According to the NAB Ordinance’s Section 9(b), the options of writ had been abolished,” he said. “The clauses related to bail and punishments had been eliminated.”
Qureshi argued that “the writ is permissible only in hard circumstances,” adding that “the high court had not mentioned any such hardships in its judgement.”
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar noted that “there may not be another judgement on suspension of sentences” that is 43 pages long.
“Show me another such judgement that exceeds more than a page and a half,” he said.
The special prosecutor concurred with the chief justice’s observation, adding: “Sir, in my career I have never seen this long a judgement on suspension of sentences. Ask someone wise, and maybe [you] would find another instance.
Qureshi also questioned the basis on which the IHC had used the “hardship” principle.
“The principle of hardship is adopted either in extremely severe cases of ailments whose treatment may not be possible in jail or cases where appeals had not been filed in years,” the prosecutor claimed.
The court issued notices to Nawaz and Maryam, with the chief justice remarking about Capt Safdar that “his sentence is brief; we will see the rest”.
The hearing was adjourned until November 6.
In its petition, NAB asked for the September 19 decision by IHC to be declared null and void, contending that the “IHC had failed to appreciate that through its order, it had seriously prejudiced the case of the prosecution by holding that the trial court judgement suffered from obvious and glaring defects and infirmities and that the convictions and sentences handed down to the accused might not be sustained ultimately.”
It prayed the apex court to restore the sentences awarded to the Sharifs and to cancel the bail granted to all the accused in the reference.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued a statement pertaining to reports of Justice Umar Ata Bandial’s separation from the bench.
Justice Bandial has not separated himself from the bench; he is rather ill which is why Chief Justice Saqib Nisar constituted the bench again, said the statement issued by the apex court.
The reports suggesting that Justice Bandial recused himself are baseless and the chief justice has taken strict notice of these reports aired on various news channels, it said.
Last month, Justice Minallah of the IHC had suspended the sentences handed to the former premier, his daughter and son-in-law by accountability court judge Mohammad Bashir on July 6.
Nawaz, Maryam and Capt (r) Safdar were sentenced to 11 years, eight years and one year, respectively, in prison in the Avenfield properties reference.