ISLAMABAD: Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday challenged in the Islamabad High Court an accountability court’s decision against clubbing of three corruption references pending against him into one.His lawyer, Azam Tarar, submitted an application in this regard in the court on Tuesday.“The accountability court did not take the IHC’s previous detailed judgement into account while deciding against clubbing the three references together,” the application argued.“The accountability court gave its verdict in a rush and thus it should be deemed void by the IHC,” it stated.Tarar requested the court to begin proceedings on the application within the day. The hearing was held late in the afternoon, during which the judge hearing the petition asked what the impact of deciding in favour of the petitioner would be.“All proceedings on the references will be declared null and void,” Tarar told the court, adding that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) would have to begin the process anew to file a consolidated reference.When reminded that the petitioner had a similar appeal pending in the Supreme Court, Tarar said it was based on different grounds.The IHC subsequently issued a notice to NAB and scheduled the next hearing for November 20. Earlier too, Nawaz Sharif had requested the accountability court to club all the references together. However, accountability court judge Bashir had rejected the plea on November 8.In his written order, the judge said, “Section 17(d) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 provides a mechanism which could be adopted or not, depending on the circumstances of each case.”The prosecution or the accused could not insist on conducting a joint trial of offences even if they were similar, the order noted. The accused/applicant could not justify clubbing of all the three references for a joint trail in the circumstances of the cases, the written order said.Therefore, in order to avoid conflicting judgements or any likelihood of ignoring defence that will be produced by the applicant separately in each reference, all the three references would be decided simultaneously, it added.The court had further said that the request for single trial had been made in view of the convenience of the accused. The court noted that in the case of joint charges, the trial facts of each case could get mixed up. Moreover, the offences alleged in the three corruption references were not of same kind, the judge had noted.Sharif’s lawyer had sought a joint trial, arguing that the main allegation in all three corruption references was the same — that the assets under the names of Hasan and Hussain Nawaz were actually owned by Nawaz Sharif. The defence counsel had further argued that the three references had been supplemented by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report, and six out of nine witnesses were common in references 18 and 19, while two witnesses out of 10 were common in all the three corruption references.Published in Daily Times, November 15th 2017.