The Islamabad High Court adjourned Nawaz Sharif’s appeal in the Al-Azizia case on Thursday after deciding that the case would be heard on merit.
A two-member bench of the IHC including Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Gul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the case on Thursday where proceedings centered around the issue of whether the appeal should be heard on procedural or technical matters as opposed to being sent back to the trial court.
Nawaz’s lawyers Amjad Pervaiz and Azam Nazeer Tarar argued for the case to be heard on merit, which was granted.
During the hearing, Nawaz’s legal team also told the court that they did not wish to pursue the case against Judge Arshad Malik video scandal.
In 2018, Nawaz had been sentenced to seven years in jail in the Al-Azizia reference in addition to a Rs1.5 billion fine.
Nawaz had filed petitions to restore his appeal against convictions in the Al-Azizia and Avenfield cases after his return to the country from exile after four years. The appeals were restored on October 24.
The same two-member bench of the IHC has already acquitted Nawaz in the Avenfield reference.
At the beginning of the hearing, the bench asked Nawaz’s lawyers if the reference was linked to the Panama Papers. Pervazi replied in the affirmative, sayign that three references had been filed on the instructions of the Supreme Court, including the Al-Azizia case.
As for the other two, Nawaz has already been acquitted in the Avenfiedl case while the National Accountability Bureau has withdrawn its appeal in teh Flagship reference.
When asked what the cases were about, the lawyer said that all three cases were related to assets beyond means. He added that there were 22 witnesses in the case out of which 13 had submitted documents. However, he added that none of them were eyewitnesses.
Pervaiz also told the court that the steel mill had been established in 2001 while Nawaz was not a public office holder and he had had no link with the companies at any point.
At this point, NAB’s prosecutor interrupted the proceedings to say that Nawaz’s lawyers were arguing over the merits of the case while they had filed another petition in the Judge Arshad Malik video scandal.
However, Pervaiz said that they did not wish to pursue the judge vieo case as Arshad Malik had already passed away.
Justice Aurangzeb replied that if the judge’s conduct was not correct while hearing the case it could have ‘effects’. He also asked why the judge had been dismissed.
The judge offered to set up a screen in the courtroom and play the video. However, he added that the matter could become a ‘double edged sword’ as well.
Justice Farooq said that there were two options: either the IHC could hear the case on merit or send it back to the trial court in which case Nawaz would be treated as accused instead of convict.
Nawaz’s lawyers opted for the former, while NAB argued for the latter. The bench decided the matter in favour of Nawaz after which arguments on merit began.
The case was later adjourned till December 12.