Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday challenged in the Islamabad High Court an accountability court’s decision against clubbing three corruption references pending against him into one.
Sharif’s lawyer, Azam Tarar, submitted an application in this regard in court on Tuesday.
“The accountability court did not take the IHC’s previous detailed judgement into account while deciding against clubbing the three references together,” the application argued.
“The accountability court gave its verdict in a rush and thus it should be deemed void by the IHC,” it declared.
Tarar requested the court to begin proceedings on the application within the day
Earlier, Sharif had requested the accountability court to club all the references together. However, Accountability Judge Bashir rejected the plea on Nov 8.
In his written order, the judge said: “Section 17(d) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 provides a mechanism which could be adopted or not, depending on the circumstances of each case.”
The prosecution or the accused could not insist on conducting a joint trial of offences even if they were similar, the order noted. The accused/applicant could not justify clubbing of all the three references for a joint trail in the circumstances of the cases, the written order said.
Therefore, in order to avoid conflicting judgements or any likelihood of ignoring defence that will be produced by the applicant separately in each reference, all the three references will be decided simultaneously.
The court had further said that the request for single trial had been made in view of the convenience of the accused. The court noted that in the case of joint charges, the trial facts of each case could get mixed up. Moreover, the offences alleged in the three corruption references were not of same kind, the judge had noted.
Sharif’s counsel had sought a joint trial, arguing that the main allegation in all three corruption references was same — that the assets under the names of Hassan and Hussain Nawaz were actually owned by Sharif. The defence counsel had further argued that the three references had been supplemented by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report, and six out of nine witnesses were common in references 18 and 19, while two witnesses out of 10 were common in all the three corruption references.
Sharif’s counsel had argued that the alleged offence was the same under Section 9(a)(v) of the NAO in all three corruption references. This was the second time that the accountability court had dismissed an application submitted by Sharif seeking a joint trial.