Pakistan News

IHC disposes of Nawaz’s appeal against order in Al-Azizia case, for now

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will start hearing appeals against conviction of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Al-Azizia reference after completing the requirements regarding his attendance in the court.

The court disposed of a petition seeking hearing of his appeal on merit with the observation that “decision regarding the disposal of the appeal of the appellant on merit under Section 423 CrPC [criminal procedure code] shall be taken [up] after the procedure for procuring attendance of the appellant is completed”.

The IHC’s division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani on Tuesday issued non-bailable warrants for Mr Sharif.

In the detailed judgement, the bench directed the federal government to execute the warrants “through High Commission of Pakistan in United Kingdom”.

Says plea to be taken up after matters pertaining to his attendance in court are dealt with

Further hearing in this matter has been adjourned till Sept 22.

During the course of the hearing on Tuesday, Mr Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed had cited a number of judgements, including the one relating to trial of retired General Pervez Musharraf, and pointed out that the superior judiciary had granted right of audience to the counsel for the former military ruler even after he had been declared a proclaimed offender.

He argued that Mr Sharif had to travel abroad for his treatment due to a “life-threatening indisposition”. He further contended that the appellant was unable to return to Pakistan and appear before the court due to his condition and, therefore, the instant appeal be decided on merit after hearing the pleader/counsel appointed by him for representing him in the appeals.

In support of his contentions, the counsel relied on Section 423 of the CrPC as well as the case law on the subject. He also disclosed the details of a certificate issued by one Dr David Lawrence.

The court noted that the appellant sought a decision on the case on merit in the light of the fact that he was unable to appear before the court on the dates to be fixed for a decision on the appeal in view of Section 423 of the CrPC.

The reason for absence is the indisposition of the appellant.

The court said: “For the sake of backdrop, it is mentioned that the appellant was tried and convicted by Accountability Court-I, vide judgement dated July 6, 2018; he filed the instant appeal and with the same a petition under Article 199 of the Constitution was also filed seeking suspension of the sentence and release on bail. The said petition was allowed by this court vide judgement dated September 19, 2018.

“The appellant [Mr Sharif] then proceeded to the United Kingdom in November 2019 and is still there allegedly on account of his indisposition. Meanwhile, the appellant was declared a proclaimed offender by Accountability Court No-III, vide order dated September 9, 2020, in Toshakhana reference.”

The court also observed in its order: “It is trite law that after a person has been declared as a fugitive from law or an absconder, even in another case he loses his rights granted to him by procedural or substantive law.”

Because in a connected appeal the bail granted to the appellant had lapsed, an order had been passed for his attendance and appearance before the court.

According to the judgement, Mr Sharif ought to surrender before the court after lapse of his bail granted by the IHC.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2020

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