–Replies submitted by Nawaz Sharif and daughter Maryam say anti-graft watchdog did not compare income with value of property
–Appeal SC to reject NAB’s plea seeking cancellation of their bails
ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam on Saturday defended the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) decision to suspend their sentences in the Avenfield flats case, appealing the Supreme Court (SC) to reject the accountability watchdog’s request to revoke their bails.
Earlier in September, the IHC suspended the sentences of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (r) Safdar. The Sharif family members were imprisoned following the accountability court’s July 6 verdict in the Avenfield case.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on October 22 challenged before the top court the IHC decision to suspend the punishments of the three accused.
The SC heard arguments on the appeal from both sides and the hearing was subsequently adjourned till November 12 and both parties were ordered to submit their arguments in writing.
‘NO RECORD OF PROPERTY’S VALUE’:
In his response, Nawaz urged the apex court to reject NAB’s plea against the suspension of their sentences.
He stated that the accountability court announced its decision without providing any evidence of the value of the London flats. “No records were provided which could prove the value of the properties,” the response adds.
NAB built a case around the supposition that the value of assets owned exceeds that of the income but did not state what the assets are worth and what the income amounts to, the reply states.
“A decision was given without comparing the value of the two,” Nawaz has stated, terming the accountability court’s decision non-maintainable.
The parameters involving the revocation of bail differ from those when bail is granted, the response has argued.
The 43-page decision given by the high court consists of 32 pages worth of the counsels’ arguments, whereas the reason for granting bail is covered in 12 pages, it states.
Nawaz has further argued that the high court did not go into the depth of the evidence provided in the reference and that the decision was not a final judgement, rather a prima facie observation.
He stated that the accountability court’s decision has legal flaws and to hold a suspect under custody in such conditions falls under the ambit of “unfavourable circumstances” and is contrary to one’s freedom and fundamental rights.
“If I am acquitted in the main case, who will provide redressal for the days I spent in jail?,” Nawaz has stated.
“The entire portion of my known assets has been omitted from the case,” he has argued, further contending that the analytical chart used by the plaintiff to refer to assets and payments is not based on sound legal evidence.
“I was made the owner of the flats based on mere impression in the accountability court’s judgement,” he has argued.
‘NO EVIDENCE OF CONSPIRACY’:
In a separate response, Nawaz’s daughter Maryam asserted that there is no evidence against her pertaining to the ownership of the London flats and that the NAB appeal should be rejected by the SC.
She has argued that without having ascertained the value of the flats, the question of her abettment cannot be raised and that even if the value was determined, her guilt cannot be proven without fulfilling the requirements of the accountability laws.
Maryam has stated that the bureau has outlined four such requirements to fulfill legal conditions.
Among the requirements, it has been outlined that it is incumbent upon NAB to prove that the accused is an office holder. NAB can also not overlook the rule of determining whether the assets are in fact beyond known income.
She further argues that NAB provided no evidence with regard to the value of the flats purchased in London between 1993 and 1996 and neither did it raise any questions regarding the value.
Like Nawaz, she too has argued in her response that without comparing the value of the flats and known income, it is not possible to issue a judgement on the pretext that the value of the properties is greater than the known income.
The response states that there are three legal viewpoints available to determine whether or not the value of assets declared is beyond known sources of income.
Maryam’s response stated that on a prima facie basis, the accountability court’s decision was incorrect and that she deserved to be released on bail.
It further states that NAB was unsuccessful in proving any conspiracy or the act of committing a crime with regard to the purchase of flats between 1993 and 1996 and the court’s verdict regarding the purchase of flats cannot be tied to Nawaz Sharif.
Additionally, Maryam’s response states that the court’s decision regarding trust deeds is also in contravention to the law.
‘NO OPTION BUT TO SUSPEND VERDICT’:
While hearing the NAB’s appeal on Nov 7, CJP Nisar had said that the SC had no other option but to suspend the IHC ruling against the accountability court’s verdict 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 Haris 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?” Haris 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 SC for a final ruling.