ISLAMABAD: A two-judge bench of the Islamabad High Court on Thursday overturned the conviction of PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (retd) Safdar in the Avenfield reference.
The IHC bench, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, pronounced the verdict after hearing arguments from both sides.
The court also set aside the sentences awarded to Maryam and Safdar by the accountability court, automatically also ending 10-year disqualification of the PML-N vice-president.
During the hearing, Justice Kiyani remarked that NAB presented two documents retrieved from London as evidence but on these documents, no degree could be issued. The judge wondered then how could it become a criminal case.
NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar argued that the Sharif family did not present any documents in their defence.
Justice Farooq chided the lawyer saying why the Sharifs should produce any documents as the onus was on the NAB to prove them wrong.
“Where was the connection of Nawaz Sharif shown in the letter? If Nawaz’s connection was not established, then how a NAB case against Maryam could have been lodged,” Justice Farooq remarked.
The judge said NAB had prepared the entire case against Maryam and there was no mention of Nawaz. He observed if a property was in daughter’s name, it did not mean that it was owned by the father.
He said that Capt Safdar was convicted on the basis of a trust deed which the NAB claimed was fake. Let’s assume if this document was not original, even then it was accepted by all parties.
Justice Farooq went on to remark that the NAB’s case might be valid but the watchdog had failed to prove it.
On July 6, a few weeks before the elections in 2018, the accountability judge of Islamabad, who was working under the supervision of an apex court judge, convicted the Sharif family in the Avenfield properties reference.
PML-N Quaid and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was handed 10 years as jail time for owning assets beyond known income and one year for not cooperating with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Meanwhile, Maryam was given seven years for abetment after she was found “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father” and one year for non-cooperation with the bureau.
Captain Safdar was given one year jail time — for not cooperating with NAB, and aiding and abetting Nawaz and Maryam.
The Sharif family had filed appeals against its conviction before the IHC in the second week of August 2018. The court had on Sept 18 the same year suspended their sentences and released them on bail.
In October last year, Maryam filed a new application, along with “extremely relevant, simple and clear-cut facts”, with the IHC seeking annulment of that verdict.