ISLAMABAD  -  The Islamabad High Court Wednesday directed Captain (Retd) Muhammad Safdar to make Accountability Court as a respondent in his petition seeking suspension of his conviction in the Avenfield corruption reference.

A division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb conducted hearing of the petition and deferred the hearing till August 13 after issuing aforementioned directions.

During the proceedings, the petitioner’s lawyer Amjad Pervez adopted that a request to suspend punishment can only be accepted if the culprit is sentenced less than five years. At this, Justice Aamer remarked that this was the reason that Safdar’s petition had been separated from his wife Maryam and father-in-law Nawaz Sharif’s pleas.

Safdar's lawyer contended that while the court had ordered the sentences of all the three convicted in the case to begin simultaneously but this was not happened in the case of his client who had remained in the National Accountability Bureau's custody for a day. However, he added its benefit was not given to Safdar.

He argued that the Accountability Court’s ruling in the Avenfield case was based on a forged signature on a trust deed but the expert witness had admitted that the Calibri font was available in 2005.

In response to this, Justice Farooq remarked that it would be better not to discuss the case’s merits at this stage.

On the other hand, the NAB prosecutor opposed the petition by raising objections over Safdar’s petition against his conviction.

Then, the IHC bench directed the petitioner’ counsel to amend the petition by making the AC a respondent to the case as the appeal was against the court’s verdict.

The Sharif family had filed the petitions against the Avenfield convictions after AC’s verdict dated July 6 wherein the court had sentenced Nawaz to a total of 11 years in prison and imposed a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion) in the corruption reference while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years with a £2 million fine (Rs335 million) and Nawaz’s son-in-law Capt (Retd) Safdar was also given a one-year sentence without any fine.

The Sharifs have challenged the court’s verdict in IHC demanding declaration of the verdict as null and release on bail.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, and Capt (Retd) Muhammad Safdar had filed the appeals in the IHC challenging the Accountability Court’s verdict in the Avenfield property reference and made the state through Chairman, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as respondent.

In the appeals, it was stated that Nawaz Sharif was convicted under Section 9 (a)(v) of NAO, 1999, and Serial No.2 of the Schedule to the NAO, 1999, and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a term of ten years, and to fine of 8 million pounds under Section 10 of the NAO, 1999 for the offence under Section 9 (a)(v) of the NAO, and to one year imprisonment for the offence at Serial No.2 of the Schedule of the NAO, 1999, with stipulation that both the sentences shall run concurrently.

The appeals added that Maryam Safdar was convicted under Section 9 (a)(v) and (xii) of the NAO, 1999 and for the offence at Serial No.2 of the Schedule to the NAO, 1999, and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for seven years with fine of 2 million pounds under Section 10 of the NAO, 1999 for the offence under Section 9 (a)(v) and (xii) ibid, and to one year simple imprisonment for offence at Serial No.2 of the Schedule to the NAO, 1999, with stipulation that both sentences shall run concurrently.

Similarly, Capt (Retd) Muhammad Safdar was convicted for offences under Section 9 (a)(v) (xii) read with Section 10 of the NAO, 1999, and for the offence at Serial No.2 of the Schedule of NAO, 1999, and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for one year under Section p (a)(v)(xii) read with Section10 of the NAO, 1999, and to one year under Serial No.2 of the Schedule attached with NAO, 1999.

They were of the view that the impugned judgment, conviction and sentence are based on no evidence.

 

 

SHAHID RAO