A division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb also allowed petitions filed by Sharif family members against the accountability court’s July 6 verdict in Avenfield reference case which found them guilty of corruption and sentenced them to imprisonment and fines.
“The instant writ petition is also allowed and sentence awarded to the petitioners by the accountability court shall remain suspended till the final adjudication of the appeal filed by the petitioner,” reads the judgment. “The petitioner shall be released on bail subject to furnishing bail bonds in the sum of Rs500,000 with one surety in the amount to the satisfaction of deputy registrar of the high court.”
The order allows the release of Sharif family members from Rawalipindi Central Jail – where they have been incarcerated since July 13.
PML-N leader Khawaja Asif said the IHC judgment was a “victory for justice”.
In the July 6 decision, Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir had sentenced Nawaz to 10 years rigorous imprisonment (RI), Maryam to 7 years RI and Safdar to one-year (RI). The accused were also disqualified to contest elections or to hold public office for a period of 10 years after release.
NAB moves SC to block Sharifs’ suspension plea before IHC
PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif was present in the courtroom along with Mushahiddullah Khan, Raja Zafarul Haq and others as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor concluded his arguments.
Following the accountability court’s judgment in the Avenfield reference, the Sharifs’ filed separate petitions through counsel Khawaja Haris and Amjad Pervaiz requesting the high court to suspend sentences and set aside the verdict.
Sharif’s suspension petitions not maintainable: NAB
The petitions moved the onus of proof from the accused to the prosecution. In the course of court proceedings, the IHC mulled whether the conviction can be based on presumption as NAB continued to raise objections over the maintainability of the petitions.
The anti-graft watchdog also moved the Supreme Court to block the Avenfield verdict suspension pleas before the IHC. However, the top court penalised NAB for filing a “frivolous” petition and fined the anti-graft watchdog Rs20,000.