Avenfield reference: SC dismisses NAB appeal, upholds bail of Sharif family

SC, NAB appeal, dismissed, accountability court, IHC verdict, Avenfield reference, Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Capt (retd) Safdar
14 Jan, 2019 1:58 pm

ISLAMABAD (92 News) – The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday dismissed the National Accountability Court (NAB) appeal against the verdict of Islamabad High Court (IHC), upholding bail of Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar in the Avenfield reference.

A five-bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard the appeal.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that the court cannot rule on the case at this stage. “It is the basic question that under which rule the bail be cancelled,” he remarked.

He observed that the real case will be affected if the apex court talked about the merit. “The principles and standards for granting and cancelling the bail are different,” he remarked.

“Nawaz Sharif is already in jail. He does not face the charge of misusing the bail,” he remarked. He said that NAB counsel’s word reminds them Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’. “If we mention Shakespeare, it will said that we allude to novels,” he observed.

He asked the counsel not to give point leading to the cancellation of the bail. “We do not want to make the mistake committed by the Islamabad High Court,” he remarked.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarked that it is possible that the court upholds the bail by giving different reason. “A separate law has to be formed for the white collar crime. The government did not work on the white collar crime,” he remarked.

Justice Gulzar remarked that the NAB law was formed for the white collar crime. “The NAB law will have to be implemented strictly. Death sentence is awarded on corruption in China. The accused is handed over to the firing squad after the summary trial,” he said.

Avenfield reference details

The NAB had filed the reference regarding the high-end properties in London, along with two others, on the Supreme Court’s directives in the landmark Panamagate verdict last year which de-seated Nawaz as the prime minister.

After the 9-month-long trial, the accountability court had awarded 10-year jail to ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif for owning assets beyond known income and one year for not cooperating with the NAB. His daughter Maryam was given seven years for abetment after she was found “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father” and one year for non-cooperation with the bureau. Nawaz’s son-in-law retired Captain Safdar has been given one year jail time — for not cooperating with the NAB, and aiding and abetting Nawaz and Maryam. Nawaz was also handed a fine of £8 million and Maryam £2 million.

The non-cooperation punishment for all three was given under Serial 2 of the schedule of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999: “Refuses to answer questions, or to provide information to any member of the NAB or any other agency when required to do so.”

Nawaz was convicted under NAO 1999 9(a)(v): “A holder of a public office, or any other person, is said to commit or to have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices […] if he or any of his dependents or benamidar owns, possesses, or has acquired right or title in any assets or holds irrevocable power of attorney in respect of any assets or pecuniary resources disproportionate to his known sources of income, which he cannot reasonably account for or maintains a standard of living beyond that which is commensurate with his sources of income.”

The abetment conviction for Maryam and Safdar falls under NAO 1999 9(a)(v)(xii), which stated: “Is said to commit or to have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices […] if he aids, assists, abets, attempts or acts in conspiracy with a person or a holder of public office accused of an offence.”

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