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July 13, 2018

Accountability Court failed to do Nawaz, Maryam justice, claims ex-CJ


July 13, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chauhdry, who has recently emerged as a staunch opponent of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has categorically said that the Accountability Court while sentencing Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law, did not deliver justice.

“I believe the requirements of justice were not fulfilled. When you sit on a position to deliver justice you should not care about any other thing even if your enemy is in front of you,” former Chief Justice said in a televised interview.

Judge Mohammad Bashir of Accoutability Court last Friday announced 10-year-jail for Nawaz Sharif, 7 year imprisonment for his daughter Maryum Nawaz and one year for Sharif’s son-in-law Captain (Retd) Safdar in Avenfield properties case. However former Chief Justice who is considered a strong authority on legal matter pointed out serious flaws in the judgment blaming the accountability court judge for a “very weak” judgment.

“He (the judge) did not do justice in this case. On one hand you yourself are acquitting them in corruption charges but on the other hand you are attracting a clause (of NAB Ordinance) which cannot be applied. When you dismiss all evidence and acquit them in all corruption case, then how can you punish them,” asked the former Chief Justice saying that prosecution did not bring a single piece of evidence in court. “In Calibri font issue, there was a witness, Robert Radley, who testified in the court but there is not a single word on that evidence in the judgment and how it will affect the decision but still Maryum was punished under Serial No.2 of schedule (attached with NAO 1999),” he said.

Former Chief Justice said he was surprised that the judge acquitted the accused under section 9 (a) (iv) of National Accountability Ordinance 1999 but punished them under 9-a(v) of the NAO 1999.

He said the two sections couldn’t be read independently. The former head of the Supreme Court of Pakistan is of the opinion that burden of proof is on prosecution to prove that accused have developed assets beyond his or her means.

“In asset beyond means cases), prima facie evidence is responsibility of prosecution. We have many court judgements in Pakistan which say that if you have to bring such a case of asset beyond means than burden of proof is on prosecution. But in this case the prosecution could not bring a single evidence against them”.

When asked by host whether NAB deliberately made a weak case Chauhdry said “No No I won’t say this I would rather blame judge sahb who was presiding the case. He should have given the decision independently. Now look at the punishments they gave under section 9a (V). On one side he says there is no evidence against them, then how are punishing them? If you are punishing them for making these properties then you must bring evidence. Not a single word has been discussed (on evidence)”.

The former Chief Justice said unfortunately NAB could not bring strong evidence against the accused. ” I think they might have some evidence but they just reproduced and exhibited before court the JIT report.

“We have some principles under Qanoon-e-Shahadat through which we prove documents but NAB did not take interest in that. If you read (JIT chief) Wajid Zia’s statement you will clearly see that the things (documents) that he collected during investigation he just brought those again before court.. Similarly all 18 witnesses brought similar documents but no one proved the authenticity of those documents.

For example, he said, these people obtained some documents from Mossack Fonseca but these documents were attested by the Pakistani Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and no one from the German firm turned up to verify the same.

“Also FIA did not say anything about the content of the documents. They just said based on due diligence, we believe Maryum is the owner of flats bacause somewhere in the documents Saroor Palace Jeddah is mentioned.”

Iftikhar Chauhdry said after discussing all evidence, NAB court itself says that in such cases it is difficult to establish who owns that property. “They only knew Nelson and Nescol owned that property and on basis of presumption they said that these properties may belong to Maryum but the judgement does not say even once that this property belong to Nawaz Sharif.

“Also, a judgement by the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa in Hudabia paper Mill case also declared that there is no evidence against them so we uphold the High Court decision to close the case.”

The two sections discussed by NAB court and former CJ are hereby copied from NAB Ordinance 1999.

Section 9 a-(iv) states: A holder of a public office, or any other person, is said to commit or to have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices- “If he by corrupt, dishonest, or illegal means, obtains or seeks to obtain for himself, or for his spouse or dependents or any other person, any property, valuable thing, or pecuniary advantage.”

Section 9 a (v) reads: A holder of a public office, or any other person, is said to commit or to have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices- “If he or any of his dependents or benamidar owns, possesses, or has acquired right or title in any “assets or holds irrevocable power of attorney in respect of any assets or pecuniary resources disproportionate to his known sources of income, which he cannot reasonably account for or maintains a standard of living beyond that which is commensurate with his sources of income”.

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