ISLAMABAD: Senior law experts and members of the bar council have hailed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruling in which Justices Athar Minallah and Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb suspended the July 6 sentences handed by the accountability court to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar in the Avenfield properties case.
Pakistan Today reached out to jurists, lawyers and senior members of legal fraternity to know their take on the order of the court and whether it would have any impact on the ultimate decision that the IHC will be handing down in the appeal currently pending before it.
Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Kamran Murtaza said that it was expected for past many days despite the many delays by NAB [National Accountability Bureau].
“When we talk about the legal side of things, we don’t seek solace in morality. The fact of the matter is that the whole case couldn’t be established on paper as NAB has failed and there are many lacunas in the earlier judgement,” he said, calling the anti-graft body’s investigation “defective and self-contradictory”.
EXPERTS RECALL CONTRADICTIONS:
Pakistan Bar Council member Azam Nazeer Tarar maintained that the judgement of the accountability court was full of contradictions and self-contradictory stances.
He argued, “For example, if you take Maryam’s case, the prosecution is saying that she was minor at the time when the transaction took place, so she did not have the means to know the nature of the transaction. Declaring her as minor and then later on saying that she was aiding and abetting Nawaz Sharif to acquire these assets can’t be termed as a valid argument.”
Tarar said that the NAB failed to prove the case against the ex-PM beyond the iota of doubt. “They convicted Nawaz Sharif for having assets beyond known sources of income, however, they failed to determine the means of those assets. That part ultimately will prove to be the base of suspension of sentence,” Tarar said.
“NAB prosecutor failed to convince the courts. Also, NAB is an independent prosecution agency and not a complainant against them. Without waiting for the detailed judgement, their announcement to go to Supreme Court shows their biases,” Tarar commented on the role played by NAB prosecutors before the accountability court.
Supreme Court Advocate Majid Bashir, while talking to Pakistan Today, said that the basic contention of IHC was that the accountability court’s verdict were not according to the charges framed against the convicts. “Secondly, all convicts were termed as abettors while the principal accused are not around. These two things may have formed the basis of IHC’s grant of temporary release,” he said.
“It is suspension not acquittal from the charges, the Sharif family is yet to face the appeal before the high court. A temporary relief no doubt to Sharifs the judgement has put NAB in an embarrassing situation,” said Advocate Supreme Court Chaudhry Faisal, adding that it is great to see courts looking in a very assertive and free manner and has surely dashed the PML-N narrative that the courts were dancing on some other institution’s tunes.
“The suspension of sentence was very much around the corner. If we look at the fundamental principle of bail is that once prosecution is started he is treated as innocent. Once the conviction is handed down, it is not treated as final until right of appeal is there. The rational is to not rob a person of his liberty as Article 14 that deals with the inviolability of dignity of man overbear this. In such circumstances the court is very likely to grant a suspension of sentences,” said Advocate Chaudhry Badar Iqbal.