ISLAMABAD - A division bench of the Islamabad High Court Monday adjourned the hearing of an application of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif seeking suspension of his sentence and release on bail in Al-Azizia corruption Reference.

The dual bench comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the application moved by former prime minister through his counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmad Advocate and directed to defer the proceedings for indefinite period as the same cannot be heard unless date of Sharif’s appeal in the same matter is set for hearing.

Now, Sharif’s application seeking suspension of his sentence will be taken up when a date is set for the hearing of his appeal.

In his application, the former prime minister prayed to the court that during pendency of the appeal filed by him against the Accountability Court’s judgment dated December 24, 2018 and the conviction and sentence thereby recorded against him, this court may suspend the execution of sentences and he may be released on bail.

Sharif moved the application through his counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmad and cited state through chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB), NAB through its chairman, judge accountability court –II Islamabad and superintendent central jail Kot Lakhpat Lahore as respondents.

The petitioner stated in the application that he was convicted under section 10 of NAO, 1999 read with schedule thereto and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a term of seven years along with a fine of Rs 1.5 billion and US 25 million dollars.

“Furthermore, vide the impugned judgment, the learned trial judge also pronounced that all assets, properties, rights, receivables and interests of and in HME stand forfeited to federal government in terms of 10(a) of NAO, 1999 and it was also held that in view of section 15 of NAO, 1999, the petitioner shall forthwith cease to hold public office, if any, held by him and further he shall stand disqualified for a period of ten years to be reckoned from the date, he is released after serving his sentence, for seeking or being elected, chosen, appointed or nominated as a member or representative of any public body or any statutory or local authority or in the service of Pakistan or of any province and he shall also not be allowed to apply for or be granted or allowed any financial facilities in the form of loan or advances or other financial accommodation by any bank or financial institution owned or controlled by the government for period of 10 years from the date of his conviction,” said the application.

Sharif contended that from a bare perusal of the said judgment, it is evident that the findings recorded therein and forming basis for the conviction of the petitioner under section 9(a)(v) of NAO, 1999 read with section 10 ibid, are based on no evidence. He argued that he was convicted and sentenced on the basis of inadmissible evidence, unproven documents and statements of proxy witnesses which is not permissible in the eye of law. The petitioner maintained that it is apparent on the face of the record that prima facie, the conviction and sentence recorded against the petitioner is illegal and unwarranted by law and consequently his incarceration in jail pursuant to his impugned conviction is tantamount to his being held in custody without lawful authority.

He continued that if during the pendency of the appeal, the operation of the impugned judgment is not suspended, his fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution shall stand violated, he shall suffer an irreparable loss and the interests of justice shall be adversely affected.