Court orders Nawaz, his sons to appear on Sept 19

  • NAB resubmits all four references in court after removing technical errors

The Accountability Court in Islamabad on Wednesday issued summons for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his sons Hussain Nawaz and Hasan Nawaz to appear before the court on September 19, as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) resubmitted all four references in the court after removing technical errors pointed out by the registrar.

The summons has been issued on the basis of the reference against Nawaz Sharif and his family regarding ownership of offshore companies that was filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). According to the summons, the former premier has been asked to appear in person at 9am on Sept 19. It says that Nawaz Sharif’s presence is necessary to respond to the charges against him.

The summons have been sent to Nawaz Sharif’s homes in Raiwind and Model Town. On Sept 8, NAB had filed three references against the Sharif family and one against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the accountability court in light of the Supreme Court’s directives in the Panama Papers verdict of July 28.

REFERENCES RESUBMITTED: NAB resubmitted all four references in the accountability court after the court registrar had raised objections over technical errors present in the references. The flagship companies’ reference was resubmitted earlier, after which the summons was issued, and the remaining three references were resubmitted by NAB later in the day.

After the submission of the flagship companies’ reference, the registrar had sent for hearing the reference to the court of Judge Mohammad Bashir. The references were filed in light of the Supreme Court’s July 28 decision in the Panama Papers case. The bureau was given six weeks, from the date of the court’s order, to file the reference in an accountability court while the court was granted six months to wrap up the proceedings.

NAB’s Rawalpindi branch prepared references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and the nearly dozen companies owned by the Sharif family. The bureau’s Lahore branch prepared a reference on the Sharif family’s Avenfield apartments in London and another against Dar for owning assets beyond his known sources of income.

If convicted, the accused can face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets. NAB has stated that the references should be treated as interim references and it could file supplementary references later.

It said the accused had been given ample time to explain and provide evidence regarding the accumulation of these assets but “they did not join investigation before NAB on the pretext of a review petition already filed before the Supreme Court of Pakistan against July 28 verdict”.

A five-judge larger bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa is already hearing two separate review petitions moved by the ruling family, challenging decisions given by a five-member bench and a three-member bench of the apex court.

SHARIF FAMILY IN LONDON: Sources close to the Sharif family told Pakistan Today that Nawaz Sharif and his sons would not attend the court hearing as they are in London to attend Kulsoom Nawaz, who is getting treated for throat cancer in a London hospital. “Nawaz Sharif and his sons, through their lawyers, will apply for a leave of an unforeseen period of time so that they can attend ailing Kulsoom in London.”

Talking to Pakistan Today, former Pakistan Bar Counsel president Barrister Ali Zafar said that it was compulsory to attend the court when summoned. It would be interesting to see that to what extent the court can grant leave to the Sharif family. In case of any application sent by the family’s lawyers, it would be entirely on the court to either accept it or reject.

“Normally the applications to avoid the attendance in the court do get considered, if the defendants in the case are either dead or on the deathbed. But in this case, the scenario is different as defendants would request on the compassionate grounds related to their absence due to the health conditions of ailing family member,” he said.