ISLAMABAD - While referring to the Pakistan Penal Code, former premier Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Harris Thursday argued before the accountability court that the onus of responsibility lied with the prosecution and not on the accused to furnish the evidence to build up the case against the defendants.

The defence counsel, offering conclusive arguments in the Avenfield properties reference, also challenged the authoritative powers of the joint investigation team vis-à-vis the investigative analysis of the allegations. The defence counsel argued only the court had the authoritative powers to make an investigative analysis.

On this, Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir remarked that, instead of challenging the specific portions of the JIT report, the defence counsel was challenging the entire report.

While giving conclusive arguments on the third consecutive hearing, Harris said the status of the JIT that probed the Panama Papers scandal against the Sharifs was like an investigative agency and any such investigative agency had its prescribed and defined legal framework order, categorically defining which evidence was to be accepted.

The Supreme Court had assigned powers and authority to the JIT similar to that of the NAB and the FIA, Harris said, adding as per the Pakistan Panel Code, investigation and court proceedings were held at two different stages.

He said it was the court’s domain to make judgments and conclusive analysis in accordance with the investigative content, but if an investigative agency carried out the analysis and conclusive results, then what the role of the prosecution would be.

“Wajid Zia, being the JIT head, had made conclusive analysis, which was not tantamount to accepted evidence,” Harris argued, adding that under Section-161, the prosecution could not use recorded statements in its favour whereas the accused could use the recorded statements in his favour.  “Similarly, audio and video recordings of any statement could not be termed evidence whereas the JIT report in its conclusion is simply an investigative report,” he argued.

Harris further argued Wajid Zia had also pinned with the report the content which was irrelevant and had no connection with the case. He said Capital FZE Company and financial statements of the Sharif family had no link with this case. Harris continued that the investigative report was based on opinion, therefore, it could be considered as acknowledged evidence.

On this, the accountability court judge remarked the defence counsel could challenge only a specific part of the JIT and not the entire report.

Harris said he had raised objections to the JIT earlier as well. He said that witnesses, as mentioned by Zia, were never produced in the court, whereas as per Qanoon-e Shahadat, it was mandatory to produce all the witnesses in the court.

“An overall thesis has been produced in the JIT report. It is the domain of the court to judge ascertain who is speaking the truth and who is telling a lie,” Harris maintained.

The defence counsel argued he has concluded his arguments on the part of the JIT report related to analysis, elaborating he has given his arguments on one part of JIT report comprising opinions. Next he would argue on remaining two parts comprising statements under Section 161 and attached material, the defence counsel further added.

Later, the court adjourned hearing of the case till tomorrow, wherein Khawaja Haris would continue his closing arguments in Avenfield property reference.