ISLAMABAD - A division bench of the Islamabad High Court Monday deferred its reserved verdict in the appeals of Sharif family, seeking suspension of their conviction in Avenfield reference and directed the registrar office to fix their petitions challenging their sentence in this case soon after the summer vacation.

The dual bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb conducted hearing of the appeals filed by former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar against their sentences in Avenfiled reference and reserved its verdict after National Accountability Bureau Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi concluded his arguments opposing the appeals of the convicts.

Later, the bench announced its reserved verdict, saying: “We had called for the appeals and perusal of the orders passed therein shows the learned division bench had directed their fixation immediately after the summer vacation.

It noted: “Section 32 of the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance, 1999, provides for a timeframe for deciding the appeals. Since the learned division bench has directed fixation of the appeals, therefore, at this stage we are not inclined to decide these petitions and they shall remain pending to be fixed along with the appeals. In case there is a delay in decision of the appeals, the petitioners shall be at liberty to press these petitions,” said the order of the dual bench.

It added the office is directed to ensure that pursuant to the directions given by the learned division bench, appeals of the petitioners are fixed on the first day after the summer vacation.

Earlier, NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi completed his final arguments after which the verdict was reserved. He argued: “The London flats are in the name of Neilson and Nescoll, which we proved are owned by Nawaz Sharif.” The NAB prosecutor also gave reference of televised interviews and speeches of Sharif family members.

The dual bench reserved its judgment on their appeals, saying a reasonable order would be passed.

In this connection, the NAB had already submitted its written reply in which it had contended the petitions filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband Capt (r) Safdar, seeking the suspension of Avenfield reference verdict, were not maintainable and should be dismissed.

NAB Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi maintained in one of the comments filed against Sharifs’ petitions before the IHC, “NAB begs with all humility that the instant writ petition is not maintainable before this division bench.”

Abbasi added Sharifs were convicted in the Avenfield apartments’ reference by the accountability court on July 6 on the basis of conclusive presumption. He continued, “The irrefutable and conclusive presumption for the purpose of establishing conviction has been essentially adhered to by the learned accountability court.” He added the verdict did not merit suspension.

He also raised objections to the formation of the division bench, saying the division bench formed to hear the writ petition was the sole prerogative of the high court’s chief justice and the petitioner was required to make such a request to him (the chief justice).

The NAB prosecutor stated that in the present matter no such exercise has been done by the petitioner, so the petitions are not maintainable before the bench. He also termed most of the petitioners’ contents in the petitions contradictory and incorrect.

He further maintained documentary evidence adduced along with the ocular examination duly recorded by the trial court emphatically established the prosecution case. He added each and every objection to the relevancy, production and admissibility of documentary evidence had been clearly stretched by the trial court.

Former premier Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, and Capt (r) 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, 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 fine of 8 million pounds under Section 10 of the NAO, 1999, for the offence under Section 9 (a)(v) of the NAO, and 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 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 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 (r) 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.

They were of the view that the impugned judgment, conviction and sentence are not based on any evidence.

Therefore, they prayed to the court to set aside the impugned judgment, conviction and sentence awarded to the appellants by the accountability court, Islamabad.