SC takes up NAB’s ap­peal against IHC’s sus­pen­sion of Shar­ifs’ sen­tences in Aven­field case

The Miracle - - Opinion -

The Na­tional Ac­count­abil­ity Bureau (NAB) on Tues­day chal­lenged be­fore the top court the Is­lam­abad High Court’s (IHC) de­ci­sion to sus­pend the pun­ish­ments of the main ac­cused in the Aven­field cor­rup­tion case. The IHC on Septem­ber 19 had granted bail to Nawaz Sharif, his daugh­ter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt re­tired Mo­ham­mad Saf­dar af­ter sus­pend­ing their re­spec­tive prison sen­tences handed down by an ac­count­abil­ity court. A three-mem­ber Supreme Court spe­cial bench, headed by Chief Jus­tice of Pak­istan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, heard NAB’s ap­peal. NAB’s coun­sel ar­gued that the IHC had crossed a line by com­ment­ing on the facts of the case, which, he ar­gued, could only be done if the con­vict’s life was in dan­ger or if the date of ap­peal was not fixed for a long pe­riod of time. The anti-graft body said that the IHC had in­stead com­mented on the facts of the case while hear­ing a con­sti­tu­tional pe­ti­tion. The CJP pointed out that the NAB coun­sel had given sim­i­lar ar­gu­ments ear­lier as well. He fur­ther agreed that the court could not com­ment on the facts of an or­di­nary case, but said this case was a spe­cial one. He then di­rected Nawaz’s lawyer, Khawaja Haris, to present his ar­gu­ments.“The ver­dict was is­sued on a writ pe­ti­tion,” Jus­tice Nisar said, not­ing that the IHC had de­clared that the ev­i­dence pro­vided by NAB in the case was ques­tion­able. “How can the high court point out faults in ev­i­dence while giv­ing a ver­dict on an ap­peal for bail? This is what NAB has chal­lenged,” he ob­served. He added that the apex court had ear­lier re­jected NAB’s ap­peal out of “mercy”. “How about we nul­lify [IHC] ver­dict?” asked the chief jus­tice, be­fore telling Haris to pro­duce “one court ver­dict” that can be con­sid­ered as prece­dent to jus­tify the IHC’s de­ci­sion. Haris re­sponded say­ing that the case against Nawaz and his fam­ily was that of as­sets beyond in­come, but that the as­sets in ques­tion be­longed to Nawaz’s chil­dren and it was up to NAB to prove that the as­sets ex­ceeded their in­come. The CJP, how­ever, said that if Nawaz had ad­mit­ted that his chil­dren owned the Aven­fied prop­er­ties, he must also pro­vide de­tails of his in­come at the time they were pur­chased. He noted that ac­cord­ing to in­come tax laws, the bur­den of proof lies on the ac­cused.

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