–Irked by ‘delay tactics’, CJP asks ex-PM’s lawyer Khawaja Haris if he is writing a love story that he needs so many extensions
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday gave the accountability court a deadline of December 24 to finalise the proceedings and announce the verdict in the corruption trials against members of the Sharif family.
The directive was given as a three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Faisal Arbab, began hearing of a plea seeking another extension for proceedings in the Al-Azizia and Flagship references.
This was the eighth time an extension in the case was sought.
“You have made the entire country and judiciary hostage. Why do you keep trying to delay this case?” CJP asked former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris who was summoned by the top court for the hearing.
“Have you received any complaint?” Haris answered.
“We have not received a complaint but that is the kind of impression that is being given,” CJP Nisar remarked. “What kind of a big lawyer are you?” he added.
Haris, however, answered that he “never claimed to be a big lawyer”.
“You keep returning for extensions. Are you writing a love story?” the CJP inquired during the hearing.
Haris asked the court to grant 10 working days to conclude the arguments in the case. However, the CJP expressed annoyance at the request and termed it a delay tactic.
“I can leave the case if you feel that way but in my opinion, it is not appropriate to say that I am delaying the matter,” Haris said.
“Now you are talking about leaving the case and that is also a delay tactic,” the CJP remarked to which Haris said, “It is impossible for me to conclude arguments. I am not as active as you.”
“Give us a date and the exact time regarding when you will complete your arguments,” CJP Nisar asked.
“I will conclude my arguments by 4pm on December 17.”
The court then gave the accountability court a deadline till December 24 given that Judge Arshad Malik would need four days to write down the verdict.
NAB had filed three references against members of the Sharif family in line with the Supreme Court’s (SC) order of July 28 last year.
In September 2017, the trial against the Sharif family commenced. On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference.
An accountability court had sentenced Nawaz to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion) in the corruption reference while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years with a £2 million fine (Rs335 million). Additionally, Nawaz’s son-in-law Captain (r) Safdar was given a one-year sentence without any fine.
However, the jail sentences were later suspended by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).