The top accountability watchdog – the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) – has moved an application in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), asking the court to take up former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s appeals against his conviction on an urgent basis.
In its two-page civil miscellaneous application, NAB stated that the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 (NAO) ordains that matters falling within the purview of the enactment are to be expeditiously disposed of and decided.
“In this regard the Honourable Supreme Court has very recently directed that the number of accountability courts be enhanced and also issued specific directions for early adjudication and decision of the matters. It has directed day to day proceedings till decision,” it said.
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The graft buster noted that while hearing Nawaz’s appeals against his convictions, the IHC on December 2, 2020 declared him proclaimed offender as he did not “care to appear in the court or to attend the proceedings” despite “taking concession and leave of bail and knowledge of the proceedings.”
“It will be worthwhile to mention here that in view of this situation, the court framed legal propositions which need to be addressed and NAB has prepared a response on its behalf in this context and is ready to plead on these propositions before the court.”
NAB said the Al-Azizia, Avenfield and flagship cases involved mega corruption and “therefore, it is submitted with utmost respect and humility that these matters may graciously be ordered to be heard at an early date which is convenient to this honourable to meet the end of justice.”
The graft buster gave an unequivocal undertaking that it will arrange representation on each and every date of hearing as decided by the court.
The IHC on December 2, 2020 finally declared former premier Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender after the PML-N supreme leader ignored all summonses and proclamations of the bench that was originally formed to hear appeals against his conviction in two graft cases.
The IHC division bench – comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani – also issued show cause notices to the people who had acted as guarantors when the same court had granted bail to Nawaz Sharif in Avenfield and Al-Azizia references.
Before declaring Sharif a proclaimed offender, the bench recorded the statements of three witnesses – Foreign Office Europe-I
Director Mubashir Khan and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials Ijaz Ahmed and Tariq Masood – and completed proceedings of the proclamation process.
The witnesses exhibited different documents, including official letters and advertisements published in different newspapers in Pakistan and London, during the testimony.
Justice Kayani at one point remarked that propriety demanded that the court also look at the conduct of the Islamabad Accountability Court-II former judge Arshad Malik.
Judge Malik convicted Nawaz Sharif in Al-Azizia reference on December 24, 2018. However, he was sacked over misconduct on the basis of an investigation into a series of videos released by Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz in July 2019.
In the videos, the judge could be seen confessing to a PML-N worker Nasir Butt that he convicted Nawaz Sharif under duress. “We can’t shut our eyes to the affidavit submitted by judge Arshad Malik [after emergence of the videos],” Justice Farooq had added.
Former judge Malik died two days after the order on December 4 of coronavirus infection.