Ac­count­abil­ity court told to con­clude Sharif cases by De­cem­ber 24

Gulf Times - - PAKISTAN -

The Supreme Court of Pak­istan has di­rected an ac­count­abil­ity court hear­ing the re­main­ing two cor­rup­tion ref­er­ences against the Sharif fam­ily to con­clude the cases by De­cem­ber 24.

Ear­lier to­day, Ac­count­abil­ity Court Judge Ar­shad Ma­lik, who has been hear­ing the Al-Az­izia and Flag­ship In­vest­ment ref­er­ences against for­mer prime min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif, wrote a let­ter to the top court to seek an­other ex­ten­sion in the dead­line to con­clude the cases.

The Supreme Court fixed the ac­count­abil­ity court’s pe­ti­tion for im­me­di­ate hear­ing and sum­moned the for­mer premier’s lawyer Khawaja Haris.

As Haris ap­peared be­fore the court, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Jus­tice of Pak­istan Saqib Nisar heard the ac­count­abil­ity court judge’s pe­ti­tion.

Dur­ing the hear­ing, the chief jus­tice cen­sured the for­mer premier’s coun­sel, which re­sulted in an ar­gu­ment be­tween them.

Nisar asked Haris: “You (are hold­ing) the en­tire coun­try and ju­di­ciary hostage. Why do you keep try­ing to de­lay this case?”

At this, Haris asked the top judge: “Have you re­ceived any com­plaint?”

The chief jus­tice re­sponded: “Have not re­ceived a com­plaint, but that is the kind of im­pres­sion that is be­ing given.”

“What kind of a big lawyer are you?” the chief jus­tice then asked Haris, who said that he “never claimed to be a big lawyer”.

Fur­ther, when the chief jus­tice re­marked that Haris should not take up cases when he can­not com­plete them, the coun­sel said: “I can leave the case if you feel that way but in my opin­ion it is not ap­pro­pri­ate to say that I am de­lay­ing the mat­ter.”

Stat­ing that Haris al­ways ex­presses anger at the court, Nisar di­rected him to con­clude his ar­gu­ments within the given time.

At this, Haris said he would not be able to, to which the chief jus­tice re­sponded: “Now you are talk­ing about leav­ing the case, and that is also a de­lay tac­tic.”

How­ever, Haris main­tained: “It is not pos­si­ble for me.”

At this, the chief jus­tice in­quired when he will be able to com­plete his ar­gu­ments.

“Give us a date and the ex­act time re­gard­ing when you will com­plete your ar­gu­ments,” Nisar said.

In re­sponse, Haris said: “I will con­clude my ar­gu­ments by 4pm on De­cem­ber 17.”

The court then di­rected Haris to com­plete his ar­gu­ments by 4pm on De­cem­ber 17 and or­dered the ac­count­abil­ity court to an­nounce a de­ci­sion by De­cem­ber 24.

As the hear­ing con­cluded, the chief jus­tice told Haris: “We have lis­tened to you, now try to wrap up this case soon.”

On Novem­ber 19, the top court had di­rected the ac­count­abil­ity court to con­clude the Al-Az­izia case within three weeks.

Pre­vi­ously, seven ex­ten­sions to wrap up the cor­rup­tion ref­er­ences ini­ti­ated by the Na­tional Ac­count­abil­ity Bu­reau (NAB) were granted by the apex court.

The Supreme Court had ini­tially set a six-month dead­line to con­clude the four cor­rup­tion ref­er­ences against the Sharif fam­ily.

The trial against the Sharif fam­ily com­menced on Septem­ber 14, 2017.

On July 6, af­ter four ex­ten­sions in the orig­i­nal six-month dead­line to con­clude all three cases, the court an­nounced its ver­dict in the Aven­field ref­er­ence.

Nawaz and his sons, Hus­sain and Hasan, are ac­cused in all three ref­er­ences, whereas Maryam and Saf­dar were ac­cused in the Aven­field ref­er­ence only.

The two broth­ers, based abroad, have been ab­scond­ing since the pro­ceed­ings be­gan last year and were de­clared pro­claimed of­fend­ers by the court.

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