Oct 242018

National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) special prosecutor on Wednesday began his arguments in the corruption watchdog’s appeal challenging the Sept 19 order of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for suspension of the jail terms awarded to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar in the Avenfield reference.

As the hearing began today, NAB special prosecutor Akram Qureshi explained to the apex court bench the basic facts and developments in the case.

“According to the NAB Ordinance’s Section 9(b), the options of writ had been abolished,” he said. “The clauses related to bail and punishments had been eliminated.”

Qureshi argued that “the writ is permissible only in hard circumstances,” adding that “the high court had not mentioned any such hardships in its judgment.”

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar noted that “there may not be another judgement on suspension of sentences” that is 43 pages long.

“Show me another such judgement that exceeds more than a page and a half,” he said.

The special prosecutor concurred with the chief justice’s observation, adding: “Sir, in my career I have never seen this long a judgment on suspension of sentences. Ask someone wise, and maybe [you] would find another instance.

Qureshi also questioned the basis on which the IHC had used the “hardship” principle.

“The principle of hardship is adopted either in extremely severe cases of ailments whose treatment may not be possible in jail or cases where appeals had not been filed in years,” the prosecutor claimed.

The court issued notices to Nawaz and Maryam, with the chief justice remarking about retired Capt Mohammad Safdar that “his sentence is brief; we will see the rest”.

The hearing was adjourned until November 6.

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