SC says IHC overlooked guidelines while suspending Sharifs’ sentence | Pakistan Today

SC says IHC overlooked guidelines while suspending Sharifs’ sentence

–Top court issues short verdict, says considerations for grant of bail and those for its cancellation are entirely different

ISLAMABAD: Two days after it threw out the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) plea seeking annulment of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) verdict that released the Sharifs on bail, the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday issued a detailed judgement, criticising the IHC for overreach in the case.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa wrote the five-page verdict dismissing the NAB appeals against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (r) Muhammad Safdar Awan.

The SC had pointed out flaws in the IHC judgement in the earlier hearing, and the detailed verdict does the same.

It says instead of “adhering to the guidelines” issued and recommendations made by the SC concerning shorter verdicts in cases pertaining to bail, the high court had issued a 41-page judgement while deciding the Sharifs’ bail petitions.

It noted that IHC acted beyond its mandate by commenting on the merits of the case. “The verdict had not only undertaken a detailed assessment of the merits of the case but had also recorded some categorical conclusions regarding the same.”

The bail plea didn’t mention any “extraordinary circumstance”, the Sharifs were still allowed bail, the SC judgement read.

“Despite the above-mentioned deficiencies found by us in the impugned judgments, we are cognisant of the legal position that considerations for grant of bail and those for its cancellation are entirely different,” the judgement noted.

In addition, one respondent, Nawaz Sharif, was already in prison, while Maryam Nawaz deserves leniency for being a woman as “the law envisages concession for her in the matter of bail”. In the case of Safdar, his sentence was already quite short.

So, the SC doesn’t feel any need to interfere with the jurisdiction exercised by the IHC in these “peculiar circumstances”.

In July 2018, an accountability court had handed Nawaz Sharif 10 years as jail time for owning assets beyond known income and 1 year for not cooperating with NAB. His daughter Maryam was given seven years for abetment after she was found “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father” and one year for non-cooperation with the bureau. Meanwhile, Captain (r) Safdar has been given one year jail time — for not cooperating with NAB, and aiding and abetting Nawaz and Maryam.

On September 19, 2018, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had suspended the respective sentences of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam and Safdar in the matter to which National Accountability Bureau (NAB) invoked the apex court’s appellate jurisdiction on October 22, 2018.

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