–Court says larger bench being considered to determine definition of ‘deeper appreciation of evidence’
–CJP calls for ending distrust in judicial system, adjourns hearing for a month
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday hinted at forming a larger bench to decide a ‘question of law’ regarding the Islamabad High Court’s verdict suspending the accountability court’s order against the Sharifs in the Avenfield corruption reference.
Earlier in September, the IHC suspended the sentences of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (r) Safdar. The Sharif family members were imprisoned following the accountability court’s July 6 verdict.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on October 22 challenged before the top court the IHC decision to suspend the punishments of the three accused.
The formation of a larger bench was proposed on Monday in an effort to determine the definition of “deeper appreciation of evidence”.
During the hearing, the Supreme Court (SC) granted leave to NAB’s appeal against the IHC’s verdict suspending the the sentences of Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar.
The hearing has been adjourned till December 12.
On the occasion, the top judge commented that distrust in the judicial system should be put to an end.
On Nov 10, Nawaz and Maryam submitted their replies to the top court and defended the IHC verdict and appealed the SC to reject the accountability watchdog’s request to revoke their bails.
‘NO RECORD OF PROPERTY’S VALUE’:
In his response, Nawaz urged the apex court to reject NAB’s plea against the suspension of their sentences.
He stated that the accountability court announced its decision without providing any evidence of the value of the London flats. “No records were provided which could prove the value of the properties,” the response adds.
NAB built a case around the supposition that the value of assets owned exceeds that of the income but did not state what the assets are worth and what the income amounts to, the reply stated.
“A decision was given without comparing the value of the two,” Nawaz stated, terming the accountability court’s decision non-maintainable.
The parameters involving the revocation of bail differ from those when bail is granted, the response argued.
The 43-page decision given by the high court consists of 32 pages worth of the counsels’ arguments, whereas the reason for granting bail is covered in 12 pages, it states.
Nawaz further argued that the high court did not go into the depth of the evidence provided in the reference and that the decision was not a final judgement, rather a prima facie observation.
He stated that the accountability court’s decision has legal flaws and to hold a suspect under custody in such conditions falls under the ambit of “unfavourable circumstances” and was contrary to one’s freedom and fundamental rights.
“If I am acquitted in the main case, who will provide redressal for the days I spent in jail?,” Nawaz stated.
“The entire portion of my known assets has been omitted from the case,” he has argued, further contending that the analytical chart used by the plaintiff to refer to assets and payments is not based on sound legal evidence.
“I was made the owner of the flats based on mere impression in the accountability court’s judgement,” he argued.
‘NO EVIDENCE OF CONSPIRACY’:
In her reply, Nawaz’s daughter Maryam asserted that there was no evidence against her pertaining to the ownership of the London flats and that the NAB appeal should be rejected by the SC.
She argued that without having ascertained the value of the flats, the question of her abettment cannot be raised and that even if the value was determined, her guilt cannot be proven without fulfilling the requirements of the accountability laws.
Maryam stated that NAB has outlined four such requirements to fulfill legal conditions.
Among the requirements, it has been outlined that it is incumbent upon NAB to prove that the accused is an office holder. NAB can also not overlook the rule of determining whether the assets are in fact beyond known income.
She further argued that NAB provided no evidence with regard to the value of the flats purchased in London between 1993 and 1996 and neither did it raise any questions regarding the value.
Like Nawaz, she too argued in her response that without comparing the value of the flats and known income, it is not possible to issue a judgement on the pretext that the value of the properties is greater than the known income.
The response stated that there are three legal viewpoints available to determine whether or not the value of assets declared is beyond known sources of income.
Maryam’s response stated that on a prima facie basis, the accountability court’s decision was incorrect and that she deserved to be released on bail.
It further states that NAB was unsuccessful in proving any conspiracy or the act of committing a crime with regard to the purchase of flats between 1993 and 1996 and the court’s verdict regarding the purchase of flats cannot be tied to Nawaz Sharif.
Additionally, Maryam’s response stated that the court’s decision regarding trust deeds is also in contravention to the law.