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Avenfield properties reference: IHC dismisses NAB’s application

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), Thursday, dismissed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’s application to decide appeals of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain Muhammad Safdar (retired) in the Avenfield properties reference within 30 days.

The IHC in its short order stated; “Section 16(a) of National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 mandates that the trial is to be conducted on day-to-day basis and concluded within 30 days. No such parallel provision exists for decisions of appeals.”

Maryam’s lawyer on 6th October, while arguing his case, had requested the bench to dismiss the NAB’s petition on deciding the appeals in 30 days.

A division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhter Kayani clubbed the NAB’s petition seeking cancellation of post-arrest bails granted to the PML-N Vice President, Maryam, and her husband Captain (retired) Safdar.

The anti-graft watchdog moved the petition through its special prosecutor Barrister Usman G Rashid and cited Maryam, Safdar, and the federation through secretary Ministry of Interior as respondents.

During the hearing, Barrister Usman and deputy prosecutor general Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi appeared before the court and requested the court cancel Maryam and her husband’s bail.

The bench asked the NAB prosecutor why they want bail cancellation of Maryam.

He replied that Maryam has been misusing this concession.

The NAB also said that Maryam and Safdar misused the concession of bail.

It added that Maryam delivered “hate speeches” against the NAB and pressurised the witnesses seeking to testify against the accused.

The bureau stated that its Lahore office was attacked during the PML-N leaders’ appearance before investigation officers.

It further said Maryam considers her every NAB appearance a political theater and converts the courtroom into a press club and she does not care about court decorum.

The petition also said that after each NAB appearance, the PML-N leader passes “inflammatory remarks” against high-ranked officials and the anti-graft watchdog.

After hearing them, the court said that it would hear this NAB appeal along with the main appeal of Maryam.

Then the court clubbed the petition with the identical case, and deferred the hearing till November 17 for further proceedings.

In its petition, the NAB told the court that an accountability court had handed a seven-year imprisonment sentence and £2 million fine to Maryam in the Avenfield properties corruption reference on July 6, 2018 and the PML-N leader had also been disqualified for any public office by the accountability court.

The bureau contended that since 19 September 2018 till date, the convicted accused have deliberately and maliciously misused the concession of suspension of sentence/post-conviction bail.

It argued that convicted accused throughout of the course of criminal appeals have behaved in a manner that undermines the respect, sanctity, and authority of this court.

“They routinely show contempt towards the customary rules of respect and reverence underlying the functioning of Superior Courts. Their brazen disregard to the decorum of this Honourable Court is akin to obstructing the process of law which has also consistently been noted by this Honourable Court on more than one dates of hearing.”

Therefore, the NAB prayed before the court that the bails granted to Maryam and Safdar on September 19, 2018 by suspending the execution of sentence awarded to them by the accountability court, Islamabad may be cancelled/recalled and the convicted accused may be committed to prison.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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