In a massive relief for the PML-N, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday acquitted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Avenfield reference.
The verdict was announced by a two-member bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb on Nawaz’s appeal against his conviction in the case.
In July 2018, an accountability court had handed the PML-N leader 10 years in jail in the Avenfield properties corruption reference for owning assets beyond known income and one year for not cooperating with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), both of which were to be served concurrently.
The IHC had declared him a proclaimed offender in the case in December 2020. After leaving for London on medical grounds, Nawaz remained there for nearly four years and only returned to the country last month.
Following his return from the UK, the PML-N leader had filed an application seeking the restoration of his appeal against his conviction.
He had contended that while he was abroad for medical treatment, the pending appeals were dismissed for non-prosecution. The plea requested the court to revive the pending appeal for a decision on them on merit. Last month, the IHC had restored the appeal in question.
Today, the court set aside the accountability court’s verdict and accepted Nawaz’s appeal.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, the PML-N supremo said: “I thank God as I had left the entire matters on him. God has made us victorious today.”
Separately, in a post on X (formerly Twitter), Maryam Nawaz said today’s verdict showed how God vindicated those who put their unwavering trust in him.
As the proceedings commenced, Nawaz’s lawyers came to the rostrum. Advocate Amjad Pervaiz contended that the accountability court had acquitted the PML-N supremo from Section 9A of the NAB Ordinance in the Avenfield reference.
Now, only section 9A(5) is remaining in the case which pertains to assets beyond means, the counsel said and then proceeded to read the law out loud in court.
“Under Section 9A(5), the prosecution has to prove certain facts and the accused is required to be shown as a public office holder,” he said. The law states that the accused’s income should not match with his assets, the lawyer added.
“I think Nawaz’s sentence was suspended on the same basis,” Justice Aurangzeb said here. “We relied on several judgments of the Supreme Court for the verdict on the suspension of the sentence,” he said.
The judge added that later the apex court had further elaborated on the matter and directed the lawyer to assist the court on this.