ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court on Friday dismissed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s plea seeking simultaneous verdicts in the three corruption cases by terming it “infructuous”.

The IHC division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard the petition in which Nawaz adopted that the accountability court (AC) was deviating from an earlier understanding.

The bench noted: “As final arguments are being addressed, therefore, the prayer made and order passed on it has become immaterial.”

During the hearing, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi adopted before the court that Nawaz Sharif’s petition has become infructuous after the decision of Supreme Court in this matter.

According to the petition, the AC had rejected an application of ex-PM for postponement of the final arguments in the Avenfield apartments reference as his counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmad intended to first complete statement and cross-examination on Wajid Zia in all the three references, including Al-Azizia and Flagship cases.

However, the AC had permitted the prosecution to forward final arguments in the Avenfield corruption case by putting cross-examination in Al-Azizia on a halt. Rejecting Nawaz Sharif’s application, the AC noted in its June 5 order: “Accused has not produced any defence witness in this (Avenfield) reference. He has also not opted to be examined on oath u/s 340(2) CrPC. Therefore, the reason for rendering the decision simultaneously in all the three references is not existing at present.”

With this order, court has expressed its mind that it would decide the Avenfield reference first.

Petitioner Nawaz Sharif in his recent petition adopted before the court to set aside the AC decision.

Earlier on November 8 last year, the AC judge had observed in his judgment: “In order to avoid conflicting judgments, or any likelihood of ignoring any defence that will be produced by the applicant/accused in each reference, all the three references shall be decided simultaneously.”

Mian Nawaz Sharif in his application before the IHC division bench nominated NAB through its chairman, AC judge and his co-accused children Maryam, Hussain and Hasan as well as his son-in-law Muhammad Safdar as respondents.

He argued that the main allegation against the petitioner that he possesses assets beyond means and under the law such a case should be tried in a single reference unlike the multiple references.

His petition for one reference was twice dismissed by the apex court on technical grounds and the petitioner still holds on to view that under such an allegation only one reference could be filed, he maintained.

He added that later he (petitioner) filed an application before AC requesting the court to club the three references and conduct a joint trial for the reason that all the three references were based on a nine-volume JIT report and common witnesses. AC however dismissed that application on November 8.

He challenged that order in the IHC and his petition was dismissed on November 23. In the petition, the petitioner had also contended that in all the three cases there were common witnesses and cross-examining them again and again would provide them a chance to improve their statements.

Dismissing that petition, the IHC division bench had observed: “The apprehension of the Applicant that the defence shall be disclosed to the witnesses, has been taken into account by Respondent No 2. The learned trial court observed that the decision in the three references shall be rendered simultaneously.

“Moreover, in order to overcome any prejudice, which the applicant apprehends may face regarding disclosure of defence, a request can be made to the learned trial court for cross examination of joint witnesses i.e. witnesses which are common in three references on the same date or on the following day so that they have little or no chance for thinking and improving upon what is to be said.”

In the recent petition, Nawaz Sharif maintained that Wajid Zia was bound by the trial court to record his statement in all the three corruption references simultaneously. To the surprise of the petitioner when, Zia completed with this cross-examination in Avenfield reference, the prosecution filed an application for summoning NAB operation DG Zahir Shah to produce him as a witness.

He said that it was a clear deviation by the AC judge from the representation held earlier. After this, the investigation officer was summoned to record his statement - once again deviating from the understanding. The petitioner’s counsel had protested over it but ultimately yielded to the request of prosecution. The former prime minister also quoted other instances when the understanding was deviated from. He contended that all the references have at least 60 percent of propositions of fact and 90 percent of propositions of law which were common to them.

He further said that it does not suit the court to take up a reference for decision separately and independently of the other two references - without recalling any of the earlier orders or recording any reason whatsoever for deviating from the same. Therefore, he prayed the court to set aside AC June 5 order.