–Chief Justice Nisar criticises IHC for ‘spoiling country’s jurisprudence’, says has no option but to annul IHC’s suspension of Sharifs’ sentences
–Says it was Nawaz’s duty to explain that Avenfield flats were not bought beyond known sources of income
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Tuesday said that the Supreme Court (SC) had no other option but to suspend the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling against the accountability court’s verdict in the Avenfield reference case against former premier Nawaz Sharif and his family members.
The IHC on September 19, had granted bail to Nawaz, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (r) Mohammad Safdar after suspending their respective prison sentences handed down by an accountability court in the Avenfield reference.
“We have no other option but to suspend the IHC ruling,” remarked the CJP as he criticised the IHC for “spoiling the country’s jurisprudence”.
Chief Justice Nisar questioned how the IHC could say there were ‘defects’ in the accountability court’s verdict. Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Harris responded by saying that the accountability court did not mention the value of the property in question.
“If the value was not known then how could it declare that the assets were beyond the known sources of income?” Harris said. To this, the CJP said that it was the respondent’s duty to explain that the apartments were not bought beyond known sources of income.
According to income tax law, the burden of proof lies on the accused, the CJP said. He also wondered why the Panamagate case was referred to an accountability court and not the Supreme Court for a final ruling.
NAB’s counsel argued that the court could only comment on the facts of the case if the accused’s life is in danger or in case the date of appeal is not fixed for a long period of time. The anti-graft body said that the IHC commented on the facts while hearing a constitutional petition. The CJP pointed out that the NAB counsel had given similar arguments earlier as well. He further said that the court couldn’t comment on the facts of an ordinary case; however, this [Avenfield] was a special case.
Nawaz’s lawyer Harris said that the IHC verdict is only 12 pages long in which the court had also written down the recommendations of all parties. He claimed that NAB’s law regarding grant of bail has changed several times in the past.
“The verdict was issued on a writ petition,” Chief Justice Nisar said, noting that the IHC had declared that the evidence provided by NAB in the case was questionable.
“How can the high court point out faults in evidence while giving its verdict on an appeal for bail? This is what NAB has challenged,” he observed. He added that the apex court had earlier rejected NAB’s appeal out of “mercy”.
“How about we nullify [IHC] verdict?” asked the chief justice, and tell Harris to “produce one court verdict” that could be considered as a precedent.
Harris said that the case against Nawaz and his family was that of assets beyond income. He said that the assets in question belonged to Nawaz’s children and that NAB must prove that the assets exceeded their income.
The CJP, however, said that if Nawaz had admitted that his children owned the property, he must also provide details of his income at the time it was purchased.
The hearing was adjourned until Nov 12 and both parties were ordered to submit their arguments in writing.