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Appeals against sentence in Panama reference, IHC reserves verdict on important legal point

Appeals against sentence in Panama reference, IHC reserves verdict on important legal point
June 23, 2021

ISLAMABAD (92 News) - Appeals against the sentence in the Panama reference were heard in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). The court reserved verdict on an important legal point.

A division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard appeals against the convictions of former premier Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt (r) Safdar in Panama References.

The IHC bench reserved its judgment on maintainability of appeals in Al-Azizia Steel Mills, Flagship Investment and Avenfield Property references, after the accused Nawaz Sharif declared absconder.

During the hearing, the court instructed the amicus curiae to assist the court on legal point instead of giving arguments on behalf of accused. Giving arguments, Amicus Curiae, Azam Nazir Tarar said that the court had the authority to dismiss the case as there were such examples of many courts in the country.

Azam Nazir Tarar said that as the trial could not be conducted in absence of the accused in the same way the appeals also could not be heard. He said that he would give balanced arguments to assist the court.

Tarar said that the appeal was also the continuity of the proceedings of trial court. He, however, said that it was fact that one loses his legal rights after being declared absconder.

On this occasion, various judicial decisions were read out by another amicus curiae Makhdoom Hussain. Nazir Tarar said that if we look at all the decisions, then it were of pre-2010, there was only Ikramullah case in post 2010.

The Supreme Court had given a clear decision in Hayat Bakhsh case in which the top court had rejected the appeals of the accused that were not present.

Nazir Tarar, said that the Dhaka High Court had also decided to close the case of an accused in his absentee. He said that when an accused did not surrender, his case was not taken up.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani asked if the petitioner was a court absconder, then how he would surrender. Azam Nazir Tarar said in this situation, his appeal would also be rejected. The Supreme Court had rejected an appeal if an absconder did not surrender.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiani said that we had two appeals, one had three people and one had a single person. Whether we would not hear the case of those who were present in the court, he asked.

Tarar said that the court could hear the case of present appellant, adding that it was up to the courts, in some cases appeals were rejected while in others theses were sent to store rooms.

Tarar said that the appellant should have open way to file appeals against judgment. Justice Aamer Farooq asked Tarar to assist the bench on legal point as he was not a political activist rather he was a amicus curiae.

Additional Prosecutor General Jahanzeb Bharwana gave references of difference courts’ decision. He said that the same court had granted opportunity to accused to surrender. The same court suspended the decision of trial court and accepted bail of former prime minister.

Justice Kiyani observed that the petitioner would have a choice whether to go to Supreme Court or High Court.

To a query, the NAB prosecutor said there were three appeals in Avefiled property reference while two appeals were related to Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference.

He said that Nawaz Sharif had lost all legal rights after being declared absconder, adding that one could get relief only on appearance before court under Article 10A of the constitution. Bharwana said that the court could hear the appeals of those accused who were present before the court.

After hearing the arguments, the court reserved its judgment. A division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhter Kiyani heard the appeals. Maryam Nawaz, Cap. (reted) Safdar and others also appeared on the occasion.