A division bench rules Sharif can’t be given relief for being fugitive from law
While rejecting two appeals of former premier Nawaz Sharif against his imprisonment sentences in Avenfiled and Al-Azizia references on Thursday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruled that Sharif could not be given relief in the matter for being fugitive from the law.
Announcing the reserved verdict, a division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani dismissed appeal in the matter saying, “Since appellant is fugitive from law hence has lost his right of audience before this Court and we are left with no choice except to dismiss his appeal”.
Giving an opportunity to Nawaz Sharif for remedy in the case, the court said in its 9-page decision, “Appellant may file an application before this Court, as and when he surrenders or is captured by the authorities, for decision of the appeal on merits. Needless to observe that the said application, if and when is made, shall be decided in accordance with law.
Two days ago on June 23, the bench reserved verdict in the matter. The bench said in its order that court has appointed Advocate Supreme Court Azam Nazeer Tarar as amicus curiae to assist the court who tendered arguments on the last hearing saying trial in absentia is generally declared null and void by the top court, adding that appeal since is continuation of trial hence the appeal, in absence of the appellant, also cannot be heard.
According to the detailed order in the case the bench pointed out that Advocate SC Hassan Nawaz Makhdoom tendered submissions to the effect that Article 10-A of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 has made it incumbent that every person should receive fair trial and adjudication of the matter after due process.
Citing the Additional Prosecutor General National Accountability Bureau Jahanzeb Khan Bharwana in the order the court said he has reiterated his arguments, which he addressed previously on June 06.2021. It is pertinent to mention that the IHC, after hearing the arguments, reserved its ruling on whether or not it should hear the former premier’s plea in his absence.
On June 9, the IHC had given more time to Tarar to assist it in how to proceed further with Sharif’s appeal against the Avenfield case judgment as he was abroad. The court inquired as to how it could proceed further in the case in the absence of the appellant. Tarar contended that the case could be heard by the court if the required documents were available.
He requested the bench to see him, the lawyer representing Maryam and Safdar and his client in the same way. He added that as per the spirit of the Constitution and the law, the court could make a decision that opened “a clear window”. On June 23, the IHC’ bench has adjudicated on Sharif, his daughter PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her husband Capt (retd) Safdar Awan’s matter
During the proceedings, Senator Azam Nazir Tarar, assisted the court as amicus curiae, and argued about the possible way out about the legality of proceedings before the Bench, wherein it is pertinent to state here that Mr. Nawaz Sharif has been declared fugitive as per law on account of his willful absence from the court of law.
The legal position regarding the status of appeal was examined by the bench whether appellant was competent to prefer this appeal where he, himself, is declared fugitive by the court of law. Arguments were heard by the Respondents/Prosecution and amicus curiae appointed by the Honorable Court.
The Divisional Bench of High Court, while hearing the matter, reminded Mr. Tarar that he was not representing Sharif but assisting the court so he should “strike a balance” as an amicus curia about the fate of appeals where the appellants are declared absonders. Mr. Tarar replied, “As per my experience, pleas of people, who were not present for their hearing, were rejected without arguing the case’s merits”.
Furthermore, various legal points were discussed and Mr. Tarar argued the matter on 09-06-2021 and again on 23-06-2021 wherein the question regarding the fate of appeal was argued at length in per law. The judgement reserved on the previous day was announced dismissing the appeal of Sharif. However, NAB prosecutor Jahanzeb Bharwana argued that the hearing of Maryam and Safdar pleas was up to the court.
The court dismissed the appeals of Mr. Sharif on account of absentia however ruled that when the accused surrenders or is captured by the authorities, application may be preferred by the accused regarding decision of this appeal on merits, subject to law.
The writer heads a leading news wire service ‘The Law Today Pakistan’ commonly known as TLTP. He has a special focus on news relating to superior courts adjudication, access to right of information, civil, political, social and economic rights under the approach that existing cyber regime realization ensures procedural fairness in administrative law. He can be reached at email@example.com