Accountability court told to conclude Sharif cases by December 24
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.