General

Nawaz, family in court as ‘references clubbing’ plea to be decided today

The accountability court hearing corruption cases against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family will resume proceedings shortly.
On Tuesday, the court had reserved its decision on Nawaz’s plea seeking the clubbing of three references into one.
The decision is expected to be announced today.
Nawaz and his family are facing three corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in light of the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Panama Papers case.
The former premier, who spent the night in the hill-town resort of Murree, arrived back at the Punjab House and has reached the court alongside his daughter, Maryam, and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar.
Maryam, Safdar’s application
Moreover, during Tuesday’s hearing, Maryam and Safdar filed an application seeking a change in their indictment on the grounds that their charge-sheet mentions submission of a “false” document [wherein the Calibri font was used].
The application pleads that the document cannot be considered false as the Supreme Court, in the Panama case judgment, had directed the lower court to first establish whether false documents were submitted and then take appropriate action.
In its July 28 verdict, the Supreme Court had said: “In case the Accountability Court finds any deed, document or affidavit filed by or on behalf of the respondent(s) or any other person(s) to be fake, false, forged or fabricated, it shall take appropriate action against the concerned person in accordance with law.”
The court will also take up the plea today.
IHC order on clubbing of references
At the November 3 hearing, the accountability judge had adjourned proceedings in light of the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) order directing it to re-hear Nawaz’s plea seeking to club the references.
In his petition, Nawaz pleaded the IHC to declare the October 19 decision of the court rejecting their clubbing plea illegal and order it to combine the three references against into one.
Maryam and Safdar, along with Nawaz and his sons Hussain and Hasan, face corruption charges in the Avenfield properties case.
Moreover, Nawaz has been accused in two other references alongside his sons: Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment Limited references.
Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar have been indicted in the cases whereas Nawaz’s sons have yet to appear before the court and will soon be declared proclaimed offenders.
The references
The NAB has in total filed three references against the Sharif family and one against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the accountability court, in light of the Supreme Court’s orders in the Panama Papers case verdict of July 28.
The anti-graft body was given six weeks, from the date of the apex court’s order, to file the reference in an accountability court while the accountability court was granted six months to wrap up the proceedings.
The references against the Sharif family pertain to the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, their London properties and over dozen offshore companies owned by the family.
Maryam and Safdar are only nominated in the London properties reference. At an earlier hearing, the court also approved Maryam and Safdar’s bail in the Avenfiled properties case and ordered them to submit surety bonds worth Rs5 million each.
Safdar was also directed to take the court’s permission before leaving the country from now on. The judge also provided a copy of the reference — spread over 53 volumes — to Maryam and Safdar.
NAB’s Rawalpindi branch prepared two references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, and the nearly dozen companies owned by the Sharif family.
Its Lahore branch prepared a reference on the Sharif family’s Avenfield apartments in London and another against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for owning assets beyond his known sources of income.
If convicted, the accused may face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets.