IHC dismisses Nawaz’s petition seeking consolidation of references

The Islamabad High Court on Monday dismissed the petition filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif seeking consolidation of corruption references filed against him and his close relatives by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

In his petition, the ousted premier had sought joint trial in three references pertaining to the Avenfield properties, Flagship Investments and Al-Azizia Mills.

Earlier today, an accountability court in Islamabad had suspended its hearing into the corruption references as it awaited the high court’s decision on Nawaz’s petition.

The court is expected to resume its hearing shortly.

In the morning, Nawaz, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar had arrived at the accountability court after landing at Islamabad airport. The former premier had been welcomed at the court by a large number of PML-N workers

The bureau’s prosecution team and three witnesses also appeared before the court.

As the hearing began, Advocate Khawaja Harris, the counsel representing the Sharifs, had requested the court to suspend proceedings until the high court announces its decision.

In turn, the court had suspended proceedings until after the announcement of the IHC’s verdict.

As the hearing was suspended, Nawaz, Maryam and her husband left for Punjab House. It is uncertain whether they will appear before the court when the proceedings resume.

Clubbing of references

On November 24, the high court had reserved its judgement on the petition seeking clubbing of the references filed against the former premier and his close relatives.

Nawaz’s lawyer had argued before a two-member bench of the high court that similarities had been noted between the references and sought the consolidation of at least two references ─ Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment references.

The lawyer pointed out that the references list the same three individuals as accused and added that six out of 13 witnesses in both references were also the same.

NAB references

A five-member bench of the Supreme Court on July 28 had directed NAB to file references against Nawaz and his children in six weeks in the accountability court and directed the trial court to decide the references within six months.

The Supreme Court also assigned Justice Ijazul Ahsan a supervisory role to monitor the progress of the accountability court proceedings.

NAB had filed three references on Sept 8 against Sharif and his family, and another reference against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. The three references against the Sharif family are related to the Flagship Investment Ltd, the Avenfield (London) properties and Jeddah-based Al-Azizia Company and Hill Metal Establishment.

The former premier and his sons, Hassan and Hussain, have been named in all three NAB references, while Maryam and husband Safdar have been named only in the Avenfield reference.