Tuesday Nov 06, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar said on Tuesday that the Supreme Court had no option but to suspend the verdict of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in the Avenfield reference case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members.
A three-member bench headed by the chief justice resumed hearing of a petition filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) challenging the IHC’s verdict of suspending the prison sentences given to Nawaz Shairf, his daughter Mayram and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar in the Avenfield properties case.
During the hearing, the CJP questioned how the high court could identify loopholes in evidence while deciding on the petition for bail. He remarked that the IHC verdict "destroyed the field of law."
"This was Supreme Court's kindness that it referred the case to the trial court, otherwise the apex court should have had decided on Nawaz Sharif's case," Justice Nisar said.
"Four different stances were presented in the case, from Qatari prince’s letter to others... How were the assets formed? Did they fly from somewhere? You had to prove this, the properties were made out of which sources," the chief justice told Sharif family's lawyer Khawaja Haris.
Haris responded, saying, "Sir, please do not do this. This is not the law."
At this, Justice Nisar said they would decide what the law would be, reminding the Sharif family's counsel, "Neither this is a trial court nor a high court. This is Supreme Court."
Special NAB prosecutor told the bench that case facts cannot be discussed during hearing of a constitutional petition, and sentences cannot be suspended under writ jurisdiction.
During the hearing, Khawaja Haris, asked Chief Justice Nisar, who underwent an angioplasty procedure two days ago, to have rest.
To this, the chief justice remarked that he resumed his court duties keeping in consideration the sensitivity of the case.
The hearing of the appeal was adjourned till November 12.
NAB had filed the petition in the apex court last month challenging an earlier decision by the High Court suspending sentences given to Nawaz, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar in the Avenfield properties reference.
The SC bench resumed hearing today after having issued notices to the former premier and his daughter on October 24.
On October 24, the apex court had observed that it would not take notice of the appeal against Safdar's sentence suspension, since his prison term was only one year.
The NAB prosecutor in attendance had told the bench that the IHC order comprised of 43 pages.
To this, the chief justice had observed that the order should have taken 1.5-2 pages at the most. Ask anyone, if they have ever seen an order taking up as many as 43 pages, the top judge had remarked.
In its petition, NAB asked for the September 19 decision by IHC to be declared null and void, contending that the “IHC had failed to appreciate that through its order, it had seriously prejudiced the case of the prosecution by holding that the trial court judgement suffered from obvious and glaring defects and infirmities and that the convictions and sentences handed down to the accused might not be sustained ultimately.”
It prayed the apex court to restore the sentences awarded to the Sharifs and to cancel the bail granted to all the accused in the reference.