1 March 2021
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The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday dismissed petitions to suspend the conviction of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar in Avenfield reference case.
A three-judge bench headed by LHC’s Justice Shahid Waheed and comprising Justice Aatir Mehmood and Justice Shahid Jameel Khan heard the appeals seeking the release of the Sharif family members.
The petitioner had stated that National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999, better known as NAB Ordinance, was initiated by former president Pervez Musharraf but lapsed after the 18th Amendment.
A three-time prime minister was sentenced in accordance with a law which has lapsed, the petitioner said.
The petition requested the court to declare the Sharif family’s sentences null and void as they were convicted through an ordinance which has lapsed.
After hearing the arguments, the bench initially reserved its judgment. but announced it later.
The bench dismissed petitions challenging Sharif family’s sentences and also appeals seeking that NAB Ordinance 1999 be declared null and void.
Appeals have also been filed in the Islamabad High Court against the sentences handed to Nawaz, Maryam and Capt (retd) Safdar. However, on August 20, the IHC deferred its judgement over the appeals.
On July 6, an accountability court had sentenced Nawaz to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion) in the corruption reference while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years with a £2 million fine (Rs335 million). Additionally, Nawaz’s son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar was given a one-year sentence without any fine.
The trial
The trial against the Sharif family commenced on September 14, 2017.
On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference.
Nawaz and his sons, Hussain and Hasan, are accused in all three references whereas Maryam and Safdar were accused in the Avenfield reference only.
The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.
On July 10, the Supreme Court granted another six-week extension for Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir to conclude the remaining corruption references against Nawaz and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.

Abdul Gh Lone