ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the NAB appeal challenging the Islamabad High Court verdict regarding suspension of the Sharif family’s sentences in the Avenfield Reference.

The verdict was given by a five-judge larger bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar and including Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel.

Accountability Court Islamabad on July 6 convicted former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (r) Muhammad Safdar in London flats case, and sentenced them to 11 years, eight years and one year in prison respectively.

The Sharifs, through separate pleas, moved IHC against their conviction and the high court suspended their sentences on September 19. The National Accountability Bureau on October 22 filed three separate appeals in the Supreme Court against IHC verdict.

During the SC hearing on Monday, Justice Khosa observed that they have a constitution and justice will prevail in the country, adding there will be fair trial in every case.

He further observed that Nawaz Sharif is in prison and there is no allegation about the misuse of bail. He questioned when the ex-PM is still not free [after conviction in another case] so what purpose the NAB instant appeal could serve.

The judge said that IHC itself observed that the observations in its verdict were tentative and the main appeals were still pending final decision, and every order on bail plea is tentative.

Justice Khosa observed that comments will be made in detailed reasoning in the instant case for guidance of high court.

Earlier during the hearing, the bench questioned the NAB prosecutor Akram Qureshi on what grounds and rules the cancellation of the bail is being sought.

The Chief Justice asked NAB prosecutor to convince the bench as to why the high court’s verdict should be suspended.

Qureshi explained that his argument cited earlier cases heard by the top court and contended that the bail can only be granted in the case of hardship, which was not the reason behind IHC’s verdict.

He pointed out that the IHC had questioned the merit of the trial in its judgment which it could not do in a bail appeal.

The Chief Justice told the NAB prosecutor that an interim order is never final and that it never affects the final verdict.

NAB prosecutor could not convince the bench for cancellation of bail. He contended that bail can only be granted in the case of ‘hardship’.

During the hearing, the Chief Justice also expressed concern for not introducing the new laws in such cases. He observed that he has been time and again reminding the government that new laws have to be made by legislature to cater white collar crimes.

 

 

Content of NAB appeals

The three separate appeals filed by NAB had stated that IHC had erred to appreciate that the writ petitions of convicted persons were not maintainable on the ground of non-joinder of necessary and proper parties.

“In the present case the NAB, the Learned Trial Court and Superintendent Central Jail, Adiala, Rawalpindi were the necessary parties which were not impleaded by the Respondent-Convicts,” the appeals added.

They added that IHC ought to have decided the question of maintainability before hearing the writ petitions on merit.

“The Honourable Division Bench failed to appreciate and consider various and prominent Judgments of this August Court wherein the word hardship and the consideration of the Writ Petitions on the merits of the case was discussed and no finding to that effect has been given in the impugn Order.”

NAB asserted that it would be advantageous to submit here that the constitutional jurisdiction of the court under Article 199 could only be exercised when there was no other adequate remedy further adding that there was not an iota pertaining to infringement of any fundamental right of the convicts.

It further stated that IHC had given a verdict upon the merits of the case without hearing the appeals and without hearing, analyzing and appreciating the evidence on record.

Citing Asfandyar Wali’s case, the NAB appeals added that sentence could only be suspended in cases of extreme hardships and not simply on tentative assessment of the merits of the case.

“The afore-noted Writ Petition did not contain any ground of hardship nor it was instituted on the touchstone of fundamental rights and this factum has not been considered by the Honourable Court,” they added.

“Moreover, the documentary evidence pertaining the Assets and Liabilities Chart, Responses as to the Source of Income, the monolithic link chart of the convicts-accused, and the previous statements under Section 342 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1898 were never considered in their correct perspective and essence.”

The IHC had also erred in giving its opinion as to the suspension of sentence on the basis of deep appreciation/ assessment in the presence of sufficient incriminating material available on record against the respondents-convict having been convicted under the major punishment, the appeals added.

NAB in the appeals further added that the IHC had not appreciated the establishment of offshore companies and Capital FZE which were in the ownership of accused persons. The IHC has misconstrued the entire preposition and the prosecution story, it added.