Islamabad: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday approved an application seeking transfer of pending corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his sons to any other court.
A division bench of the IHC, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan, issued the short order they had reserved earlier today.
During the course of hearings, the deposed premier’s counsel Khawaja Haris had argued that the references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against Sharif family members had a common witness a i.e. JIT head Wajid Zia, while the presiding judge of the accountability court, Judge Muhammad Bashir, had already disclosed his opinion on crucial aspects in all three references.
Haris maintained that the judge had decided on 12 questions of fact in the July 6 judgment in Avenfield Apartment references – which were common in the remaining two references; Al Azizia and Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship and other companies. He requested the court to transfer the cases to a judge who can view the facts and propositions of law with a fresh perspective.
Arguing on different types of bias and interests of the trial court’s judge, he said there was reasonable apprehension that the judge may have a conscious or unconscious pre-disposition with regards to the factual aspects of the case which are common to all three references and have been finally and conclusively decided in the Avenfield case, which may tend to prejudice the accused.
Haris’ arguments, however, were opposed by NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor-General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi. Requesting the court to keep the cases before the same accountability court “in the interest of justice”, he said that Judge Bashir was the senior-most in the subordinate judiciary of Islamabad.
He asserted that since the judge had heard all references against Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (retd) Safdar, the remaining references should also be heard by him.