ISLAMABAD  -    The Supreme Court will hear the appeal of National Accountability Bureau, challenging the suspension of deposed Nawaz Sharif’s sentence in Avenfield Reference on January 14.

A five-judge larger Bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar will hear the appeal moved by NAB challenging the Islamabad High Court (IHC) verdict regarding suspension of sentences of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Safdar.

Accountability Court in July of last year announced the verdict in the Avenfield Reference. Sharif family had moved separated applications before IHC challenging the verdict as well as for suspension of sentences. 

On September 19, the IHC had suspended the respective sentences of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar and on October 22, the accountability watchdog had filed three separate appeals in the Supreme Court against IHC verdict on suspension of sentences.

The other members of the larger Bench include Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel.

On last date of hearing on November 12, a three-judge Bench had decided that legal question in the matter pertaining to grant of bail in corruption cases will be heard by larger Bench.

The Bench had framed 18 questions for consideration by the larger Bench. The larger Bench will consider the question as to whether a detailed order, consisting 41 pages, is permissible while dealing with the suspension of sentence.

The questions also include whether in a case, where there is a statutory ouster of jurisdiction of courts to grant bail pending appeal, the Constitutional jurisdiction can be invoked to grant bail.

The larger Bench will also hear the arguments on whether the ground of hardship can be considered while suspending the sentence in a NAB case and whether the merits of a case can be discussed and conclusive findings be given, as done in IHC verdict, while dealing with the case of suspension of sentence. 

The larger Bench will also consider as to whether the scope of the Constitutional jurisdiction for grant of bail during investigation, trial or release on bail by way of suspension of sentence is much wider than the scope of grant of bail under the general law, or otherwise.

“What are the parameters of tentative assessment of evidence and how can it be differentiated from the deeper appreciation of evidence particularly in cases involving grant of bail by suspending the sentence and release on bail during pendency of the appeal?” stated the written order, wherein questions are framed.

Other points include the question whether guidelines provided by the superior courts regarding ouster of Section 426 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) were required to be followed for the suspension of sentence in NAB cases, and if so what were the principles regulating suspension of the sentence under Section 426 of the CrPC.

The larger Bench would also determine if the principles regulating bail under Sections 497 and 498 of the CrPC would be applicable while considering the suspension of sentence.

Besides, if the convict was entitled to suspension of sentence but the judgement/order suspending the sentence was not happily worded, what would be its effect then?

It will further consider whether principles of cancellation of bail would also apply for withdrawal of suspension.

The questions also included if the IHC had interpreted correctly the provisions of Section 9(b) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 and whether the ground of hardship case be considered while suspending the sentence in a NAB case.

The Bench would further decide whether the merits of a case be discussed and conclusive findings be given as done by the high court and if this was permissible in its Constitutional jurisdiction while dealing with cases of suspension of sentence.

Whether in a Constitutional petition, a miscellaneous application filed under Section 561-A of the CrPC for adjudication, where CrPC is not applicable, one of the questions written in the order stated.

The larger Bench may also suggest if the high court could take up the

Constitutional petition when the main appeals had already been fixed for hearing and whether a detailed order comprising 41 pages was permissible while dealing with the suspension of the sentence.