Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz’s lawyer on Wednesday apprised the Islamabad High Court (IHC) bench that there was no evidence proving that his client was a “beneficial owner” of the Avenfield Apartments.
The counsel, Irfan Qadir, made this argument as the IHC special bench comprising Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani took up the appeals against the decision of an accountability court in the Avenfield case.
Qadir said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) could not produce documents linking the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and his daughter to the flats in London. He said the PML-N VP “inherited” the sentence. “If there was no case to be made against Nawaz then how can Maryam’s case go to trial,” the counsel added.
According to Irfan, the due process of the law was violated in the case. He said it was out of the question for the NAB court to take up the case as rules were not followed.
He added that the case against Maryam was of “political engineering” and that his client should be given a benefit of the doubt as there was no conclusive evidence against her.
Qadir further argued that the NAB has its own arrest policy that was made 18 years ago by itself. He said the anti-graft watchdog wanted to send Maryam back to jail but there was no reason to imprison an accused suspected of a white-collar crime.
“The accused is provided benefit if there is a reason [to doubt evidence] in criminal cases,” he said.
At this, Justice Amir Farooq remarked that the NAB wanted to send every accused to jail. He added NAB officials were behaving like an SHO as they wanted to arrest everyone without any regard for evidence.
Maryam’s counsel also alluded to the Arsalan Iftikhar case during the hearing. He said: “I don’t want to malign any state institution, but there shouldn’t be any hurdle in the pursuit of justice.”
He said the court should ask NAB against how many families references pertaining to public office holders have been filed? He said the Supreme Court said that references against the Sharif family should be filed.
He said only the NAB chief can approve references under the NAB law, adding that the apex court cannot use the authority granted to the NAB chief.
“If the formation of a JIT [joint investigation team] was a necessity, it could have been formed by the NAB chairman,” he added.
Qadir also questioned three references against Sharifs filed by the NAB, saying the watchdog could have added “100 properties in a single reference”, but there should have been one reference only. “It is such a massive irregularity that my client can be exonerated on the basis of it today,” he added.
He said Nawaz Sharif could come back to Pakistan on the assurance of the court that he will not be arrested and will be heard.
NAB prosecutor, Muzzaffar Abbasi, submitted the registration of Avenfield flats. He said as per UK authorities, Maryam Nawaz was the beneficial owner of the flats owned through offshore companies, Neilsen and Nascol. He termed these properties “hidden”.
Following the completion of the arguments of Maryam Nawaz’s lawyer, the apex court directed the NAB to give arguments at the next hearing on November 17.