Islamabad High Court Nullifies Nawaz Sharif’s Sentence in Al-Azizia Steel Mills Reference

In a significant development, the Division Bench of the Islamabad High Court has granted former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif relief by accepting his appeal against the verdict in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference. The court declared the sentence null and void, affirming that Nawaz Sharif is not guilty of the charges brought against him, thereby dismissing the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) request to increase the sentence.

During the proceedings, NAB prosecutor mentioned that JIT head Wajid Zia had analyzed the evidence and concluded that Nawaz Sharif was the actual owner. Chief Justice Aamer Farooq remarked that Wajid Zia himself stated that he had no proof of ownership, and the case relied on assumptions, asserting that punishment cannot be based on assumptions alone.

Advocate Amjad Pervaiz, representing Nawaz Sharif, highlighted that no case exists where a person has been sentenced without concrete evidence. Justices Mia Gul Hassan and Orangzeb endorsed Pervaiz’s argument, questioning why NAB was not taking any action despite Wajid Zia’s failure to provide proof of ownership.

Legal experts suggest that the acceptance of the appeal against the sentence has cleared the path for Nawaz Sharif to participate in upcoming elections. The court’s decision has put a spotlight on the lack of conclusive evidence against Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference.

Details reveal that the Division Bench, consisting of Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mia Gul Hassan and Orangzeb, conducted simultaneous hearings on the appeal against Nawaz Sharif’s sentence and NAB’s request for an increased sentence. During the proceedings, Nawaz Sharif appeared in court accompanied by his lawyer Amjad Pervaiz.

Amjad Pervaiz underscored that the entire case hinged on a single point related to bail, and the Supreme Court had already raised objections to the joint liability of Hasan Nawaz, Maryam Nawaz, and Hussain Nawaz in the Panama case. Chief Justice Aamer Farooq questioned the basis on which it was stated that the burden of proof had shifted to Nawaz Sharif. Amjad Pervaiz responded by referring to various court decisions and emphasized that the Supreme Court had shown favoritism in different requests related to the Panama case.

The Islamabad High Court’s decision to nullify the sentence in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference is anticipated to have substantial implications on Nawaz Sharif’s political standing and eligibility for future participation in electoral processes. The legal proceedings have once again highlighted the importance of concrete evidence in determining guilt and the need for a fair and transparent judicial process.