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IHC directs Judge Arshad Malik to hear two remaining references against Sharifs


News Analysis |

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered to transfer the two pending references against embattled PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif from the court of Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir to another accountability court of Islamabad. The legal counsel of Nawaz Sharif has argued that Muhammad Bashir decided on the Avenfield property case, therefore, it will be unjust to let the judge hear two other (similar) references against the former Premier.

The two-member bench announced its verdict on the petition, granting the Sharif family their request for the remaining two references against them to be heard by Judge Arshad Malik, instead of Judge Bashir. It is important to mention here that Sharifs are facing three references — Avenfield properties, Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment Co — filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) under the directives of the Supreme Court in its July 28, 2017 Panama Papers judgement.

Judge Bashir had Rescued himself from the other Pending cases against Sharifs

Mohammad Bashir, the Accountability Court Judge who sentenced Nawaz Sharif and others in the Avenfield properties reference, had recused himself from hearing the other two corruption references against the former premier and his family. According to sources, the IHC had received a letter from the judge recusing himself from hearing Al-Azizia and Flagship references against Nawaz Sharif and his family.

Nawaz’s sons Hassan and Hussain who have been absconding in the case were declared as “proclaimed offenders” and the court ordered non-bailable perpetual warrants of arrest against them.

They said that Justice Bashir, in his letter, requested for transfer of cases to another court. Furthermore, he stated that he had announced the verdict of Avenfield properties case and could not hear Al-Azizia and Flagship references. Justice Bashir further stated that if required, then he could also be transferred.

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Avenfield Apartments’ Reference

The accountability court awarded total 11 years imprisonment to Nawaz Sharif, 7 and 1 years to Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain Retired Safdar respectively in a much-awaited decision on Friday.  The ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment under NAB ordinance Section 9(a)(v), which relates to owning assets disproportionate to known sources of income.

Mohammad Bashir, the Accountability Court Judge who sentenced Nawaz Sharif and others in the Avenfield properties reference, had recused himself from hearing the other two corruption references against the former premier and his family.

The Section 9(a)(v) of the NAB ordinance states: “A holder of a public office, or any other person, is said to commit or to have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices…. if he or any of his dependents or benamidar owns, possesses, or has [acquired] right or title in any [“assets or holds irrevocable power of attorney in respect of any assets] or pecuniary resources disproportionate to his known sources of income, which he cannot [reasonably] account for [or maintains a standard of living beyond that which is commensurate with his sources of income.]”

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On the other hand, Maryam was sentenced to seven-year to prison for abetment. According to the 173-page long verdict, “Accused Maryam Nawaz aided, assisted, abetted, attempted and acted in conspiracy with her father accused Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif who was holder of Public Office.” Nawaz’s sons Hassan and Hussain who have been absconding in the case were declared as “proclaimed offenders” and the court ordered non-bailable perpetual warrants of arrest against them.

The father daughter duo came back to Pakistan almost after two week of the verdict announced by the accountability court. Nawaz Sharif and his daughter were arrested from Lahore airport and were brought to Adiala Jail. Both father and daughter are serving their respective sentences in the jail.

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