ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court will today resume hearing on appeals of the Sharif family, seeking transfer of the two remaining references against them from the court of Accountability Court judge Muhammad Bashir to another court.

The IHC dual bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb will take up the appeals of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar.

At the last hearing, the court had deferred the hearing till August 6 after Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris concluded his arguments in the case.

Due to Haris’s prolonged arguments seeking to transfer the Al-Azizia and Flagship references against his client to another accountability court, the bail pleas filed by, Sharif, Maryam and Safdar could not be taken up.

Previously, the Sharif’s counsel had concluded his arguments while mentioning similarities among all the three references and had placed before the bench 12 questions of fact that were common to and pivotal for the determination of guilt or innocence of Sharifs in the two other references of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

He had informed the bench that while rendering the July 6 judgment in the Avenfield reference, the trial court judge had decided 12 questions of fact which were also common in the Al-Azizia and Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship references.

The counsel had told the court that first, the veracity of an agreement reached in the 1980s was common in all three references.

Second, he had said, that the court had rejected the stance of investment of AED 12 million in Qatar, which was common to all the three references. Third, the counsel had said, the letters of Qatari Prince Hamad bin Jassim supporting the investment of AED 12 million had been found to be hearsay, hence rejected by the court.

Fourth, he had said, both the letters and a worksheet relied by Sharif’s sons, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, to show the source of investment for acquiring assets/businesses in all three references was found to be not a good defence.

Next, the counsel had said, both the letters and a worksheet prepared to fill the gaps were common in all three references. Fifth, Haris had said, Jassim’s conduct had been commented upon adversely by holding that he did not cooperate with the JIT.

He had maintained that the court had held that children were dependent financially, hence could not acquire assets without the financial assistance of ‘anyone else/father’. Haris had said that the issue of dependency was common in all three references and the children were held to be dependent on Sharif on the ground that “generally, children remain dependent on their parents” during their tender ages.

The counsel had argued that Sharif’s speech in the National Assembly made on May 16, 2016, had been considered as an incriminating factor against him in the case, adding his speech was used against him by holding that Article 66 of the Constitution (privileges of members, etc) was not applicable to this speech. “The speech factor is also common,” he had argued.

Further, he had drawn the court’s attention towards media interviews of Sharif’s sons. He said that the contents of Hassan and Hussain’s interviews had been used as incriminating pieces of evidence in the case and the interviews were common in the two references.

Haris had contended that the court’s finding of a Dubai-based company known as Capital FZE was bound to be repeated in the other two references as well, as it forms of the JIT’s volume-VI that pertained to the subject matter of Al-Azizia.

He had also argued that the existence of Capital FZE of which Sharif was stated to be the chairman belongs to Sharif’s son and made the basis for inferring that the entire family of the applicant “daughter, sons and father were one and the same monolith” and that for this reason the applicant cannot disassociate from the assets held in the children’s name.

Haris had said that the charts of assets and liabilities of the applicant and his two sons presumed to be correct in the judgment, adding these charts form part of Volume IX and IX (A) of the JIT report and were common.

Moreover, the counsel had said that the question regarding the admissibility of or the opinion given in the JIT report was crucial too and common in the other two references. He had said that the opinion rendered in the JIT report had been held admissible in evidence, inter alia, on the ground that 30-40 experts assisted in preparing the same, but there was not anything on record as to who were those experts, what was their area of expertise and for what portion of the JIT report did they assist in preparing it.

He had contended that the court has held that the evidence given by one witness, Zahir Shah, was admissible simply because he was a high-ranking official in the NAB. Haris had also argued that on different types of bias or interest of the trial court’s judge, saying he was not imputing any actual pecuniary bias or interest of the judge in the case.

He had also produced around three dozen judgments to support his arguments.

After the conclusion of Haris’ arguments, the IHC dual bench had adjourned the hearing in this matter. 

Haris had adopted that judge Muhammad Bashir has disclosed his mind, therefore, adjudication by the same accountability court would prejudice his client’s case.