ISLAMABAD -  The Islamabad High Court Thursday accepted petitions of Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law seeking presence of their representative during recording of the statement of two British origin prosecution witnesses at the Pakistan High Commission in London in corruption reference against them.

A Division Bench of IHC comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb accepted their pleas seeking presence of their representative at the time of recording of the statement but it did not nullify the Accountability Court’s order about recording of the statement through a video link.

During the hearing, the IHC dual bench observed that the plea regarding presence of counsel during recording of witnesses is reasonable and the criminal proceedings should ensure a fair trial of the accused.

Therefore, the bench said that let the examination take place in the presence of counsel and representative but the defence counsel should not seek adjournment on the date fixed by trial court.

NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Accountability (DPGA) Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi opposed the petitions, saying the petitioner did not seek the same relief before the AC.

At this juncture, the IHC bench remarked that fair trial is right of an accused.

The two witnesses have to record their testimonies in the Avenfield apartments supplementary corruption reference. Robert W Radley is the Principal at the Radley Forensic Document Laboratory and Akhtar Raja is the Principal at the Quist Solicitors. Radley is the one who examined the Calibri font scripted trust deed and declared it fake that was submitted by Maryam Nawaz before the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The petitioners Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain (r) Muhammad Safdar through two different petitions requested the court to set aside AC’s order dated February 2 or as an alternate remedy their counsel/representative may be allowed to remain present there at Pakistan High Commission in London during recording of the evidence.

The petitioners including Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain Safdar had moved the court challenging the Accountability Court’s decision of granting permission for examination of a witness through a video link in a corruption reference against them.

They moved the court through their counsel Amjad Pervez Advocate and cited Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB), judge AC No 1 Islamabad and the state as respondents.

Petitioners stated in their petition that they are accused in a reference filed by NAB against them and the AC announced a verdict on February 2 allowing the prosecution examination of its witnesses namely Robert W Radley and Akhtar Raja through video link.

They adopted that the impugned order is contrary to law and facts. “In a criminal trial, the attendance of a witness before the court is necessary unless the same is dispensed with subject to the conditions mentioned in Section 503 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC),” argued the petitioners.

They added that in the instant case, the reasons stated as an excuse or inability to attend the court are imaginary and not supported by any material.

The petitioners argued that as per mandate of Section 503 CrPC even upon dispensation of attendance of a witness, he does not stand liberated from the rule of law as even in that case, he is made subject to the jurisdiction of some court of law or authority.

They continued that although, the trial court has found the option of commission to be available yet it has proceeded to allow the examination through a video link without any legal justification.

They were of the view that the examination of the witnesses at a faraway place beyond the access of the accused or his representative also offends against the valuable right of examination of witnesses in presence of the accused and the same in any case cannot stand the test of a fair trial by any stretch of imagination.

Therefore, they prayed to the court to declare AC’s order dated February 2 as illegal, without lawful authority and the same be set aside.

They further requested that in the alternative, the said order may be kindly modified with the direction for adequate representation of the petitioners during the examination of the witnesses at High Commission of Pakistan in London in the interest of justice.

 

 

Sharifs’ counsel allowed to witness statements recording