ISLAMABAD – The accountability court on Wednesday rejected a petition filed by the former premier Nawaz Sharif to merge all three corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against Sharifs.
Judge Mohammad Bashir had reserved the verdict on the petition on Tuesday after defense and prosecution completed their arguments. The court had rejected same petition, in which Sharif sought to merge the reference against him and his sons, on October 19.
Today, Former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, Maryam Nawaz and son-in law, Captain Safdar appeared before the court to attend the hearing.
After announcing his decision in short order, the court has started proceeding to formally indict Nawaz Sharif in three reference. Earlier, the court had indicted him in his absence through his legal representative Zaafir Khan.
However, Sharif denied the allegation levelled in the three references regarding Flaghsip Investment, London flats and Azizia Steel Mills and said that he has been deprived of fair trial.
The court has adjourned the case till November 15.
Judge Mohammad Bashir also took up another petition filed by former premier Nawaz Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz and son-in law, Captain Safdar seeking a change in their indictment.
They argued in the petition that the court has considered the documents in which calbiri font was used as “false” against the ruling of the Supreme Court in Panama case that directs the lower court to first establish whether fake documents were submitted and then decide the matter.
The court has partially approved the petition and ordered to remove a NAB law’s section 3-A, which describes punishment for the alleged crime. However, the paragraph regarding the Calibri font will remain part of the indictment.
PML-N bigwigs including Talal Chaudhry, Marriyam Aurengzaib, Pervaiz Raashid and others have reached the court to attend the hearing.
Ahead of the high-profile hearing, strict security measures have been taken around the federal judicial complex. A heavy contingent comprising police and FC troops are deployed around the complex.
On Tuesday, for the first time since the accountability court started hearing NAB cases, former prime minister, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (rtd) Safdar reached the court together to attend the hearing.
As the hearing began, Judge Mohammad Bashir following the directions of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) took up a petition filed by the former premier Nawaz Sharif to club all references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against him.
However, the proceedings on the references during last hearing had been adjourned due to the orders of the high court.
Nawaz’s counsel, Khawaj Harris presented arguments regarding joining all references against Sharif family.
He said the most of the prosecution witnesses in the references were same, adding that the allegations levelled against the Sharifs are common in all three references. The references of the NAB are related to different assets but accused persons are the same.
He added that all references were made under a single investigation. Harris asked the court to re-indict the former premier after the filing of a single reference.
Asking for a single trial of his clients, he argued that proceedings will not be transparent if multiple trial are conducted.
As the Harris completed his arguments in the petition, the members of the Sharif family left the court.
Later, NAB prosecutor Muzzaffar presented arguments opposing the petition and said that the references could not be clubbed as there is not a single accused in it.
He added that Section 17D of the NAB Ordinance was applicable to a single person.
After hearing the arguments, the court reserved the verdict and adjourned the hearing till Wednesday when the decision will be announced.
The detailed orders of the high court regarding clubbing the references has also been submitted to the court.
On the last hearing, the court had also suspended summons issued to the prosecution witnesses following the indictment of former prime minister, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Captain (rtd) Safdar.
Club All References
Last week, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) approved a file by Nawaz Sharif to club together all references against him, ordering the accountability court to take up the case again.
Earlier, the accountability court has dismissed the same kind of petition on October 19.
Setting aside the decision, the IHC asked Sharif to submit a fresh plea to the accountability court, which was ordered to consider the case again and give a detailed verdict.
Judge Mohammad Bashir had indicted former premier through his legal counsel in three references regarding London flats, Azizia Steel Mills and other companies.
Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law have also been indicted in a reference regarding the properties in London, while his sons – Hasan and Hussain Nawaz – have been declared proclaimed offender on shunning the court proceedings.
NAB has filed three references against Nawaz Sharif and his children.
NAB’s Rawalpindi branch prepared references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and nearly a dozen companies and made Nawaz Sharif and his sons respondents.
The bureau’s Lahore branch prepared a reference regarding Avenfield apartments in London in which the former premier, his three children and son-in-law have been made respondents.
The references were filed in the backdrop of Supreme Court’s July 28 decision in the Panama Papers case in which Nawaz Sharif was also disqualified for concealing his employment with Capital FZE, a firm owned by his younger son Hassan.