IHC declares Maryam ‘not a beneficial owner’ of Avenfield flats

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz’s lawyer Irfan Qadir, made the argument on Wednesday at the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that there was no evidence proving that his client was a “beneficial owner” of the Avenfield flats.

The IHC special bench comprising of Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani took up the appeals against the decision of an accountability court in the Avenfield case.

According to Irfan, the due process of the law was violated in the case. He said it was out of the question for the NAB court to take up the case as rules were not followed.

Qadir said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) could not produce documents linking the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and his daughter to the flats in London. He said the PML-N VP “inherited” the sentence. “If there was no case to be made against Nawaz then how can Maryam’s case go to trial,” the counsel added.

He added that the case against Maryam was of “political engineering” and that his client should be given a benefit of the doubt as there was no conclusive evidence against her.

Qadir further argued that the NAB has its own arrest policy that was made 18 years ago by itself. He said the anti-graft watchdog wanted to send Maryam back to jail but there was no reason to imprison an accused suspected of a white-collar crime.

“The accused is provided benefit if there is a reason [to doubt evidence] in criminal cases,” he said.

Justice Amir Farooq, at this remarked that the NAB wanted to send every accused to jail. He added NAB officials were behaving like an SHO as they wanted to arrest everyone without any regard for evidence.

He went on to say that the court should ask NAB against how many families references pertaining to public office holders have been filed? He said the Supreme Court said that references against the Sharif family should be filed.

He added that only the NAB chief can approve references under the NAB law, adding that the apex court cannot use the authority granted to the NAB chief.

“If the formation of a JIT [joint investigation team] was a necessity, it could have been formed by the NAB chairman,” he added.

He further said that Nawaz Shairf could come back to Pakistan on the assurance of the court that he will not be arrested and will be heard.

NAB prosecutor, Muzzaffar Abbasi, submitted the registration of Avenfield flats. He said as per UK authorities, Maryam Nawaz was the beneficial owner of the flats owned through offshore companies, Neilsen and Nascol. He termed these properties “hidden”.

The apex court has directed the NAB to give arguments at the next hearing on November 17.

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