IHC adjourns Al-Azizia and Avenfield appeals hearing until Monday

Nawaz Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) heard the appeals of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif challenging his sentences in the Al-Azizia and Avenfield references today.

This latest development comes on the heels of the IHC granting approval for Nawaz Sharif’s petitions seeking the reinstatement of appeals in both the Al-Azizia and Avenfield cases.

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Nawaz Sharif appeared before a division bench presided over by Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb.

The proceedings began with Azam Nazir Tarar taking the lead to argue the appeal against the conviction in the Avenfield reference.

Chief Justice Aamer Farooq asked about the estimated duration of the arguments, directing the question to both Azam Nazir Tarar and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

“We will complete our arguments in two hearings,” Azam Nazir Tarar said. However, Chief Justice Aamer Farooq expressed skepticism, stating that the arguments might not conclude in such a short span.

CJ Farooq emphasised that the court would need a comprehensive overview of the case, urging Tarar to present the arguments from the very beginning.

Tarar estimated the entire case to last about six hours, while Chief Justice Amir Farooq, having previously heard the Avenfield reference appeal, suggested focusing solely on Avenfield and momentarily setting aside Al-Azizia.

Advocate Amjad Pervez’s prior decisions on merits in the Avenfield reference against the co-accused were highlighted, with Azam Nazir Tarar underlining that the acquittal of the co-accused was not contested in the Supreme Court, rendering it final.

The Chief Justice further questioned NAB on their anticipated argument duration, to which the prosecutor responded with a concise half an hour. However, Chief Justice Aamer Farooq decided to allocate one to two hours for NAB’s arguments.

After hearing the arguments, the court adjourned the hearing until the Monday, citing the need for a comprehensive assessment of Nawaz Sharif’s fundamental rights.

Chief Justice Aamer Farooq concluded the session by stating, “We will see, if necessary, we will hear on a daily basis. On the day of the case, we will also cancel the regular division bench.”

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The intricacies of the Al-Azizia reference appeal and its previous bench composition became subjects of discussion, prompting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq to ponder the necessity of forming another bench for that specific case.

Justice Mian Gul Hasan Aurangzeb highlighted the purpose of two-member benches, setting the stage for the court to delve into the extent of the Al-Azizia appeal on the administrative sign.

The Registrar’s Office of the IHC had directed the Chief of Islamabad Police to ensure robust security measures for the proceedings. Access to the courtroom was restricted to lawyers and journalists possessing security passes, with the allocation limited to 30 journalists.

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