A Pakistani court on Monday dismissed an appeal by Interior Minister Rehman Malik against his conviction in two corruption references by an accountability court and restored a three-year imprisonment awarded to him.
The accountability court had sentenced Rehman Malik to a three-year imprisonment in each of the two NAB references.
A two-member bench of the Lahore High Court comprising Chief Justice Khawaja Mohammad Sharif and Justice Waqar Hasan Mir dismissed Malik's plea and restored the sentence after he failed to appear in the court.
Malik's counsel claimed no notice was sent to the minister to appear before the court and a verdict given in his absence would be illegal. He also requested the Lahore High Court to halt the punishment orders against him.
Malik is out of the country and there are unconfirmed reports that he may not return till the matter is settled.
After the Supreme Court scrapped the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) last December, the two cases against Rehman Malik in which he was sentenced for a three-year-long imprisonment each were reopened in the accountability court.
Malik was accused of receiving two luxury cars as graft and taking away 20-tola and Rs 700,000 from the house of an accused during a raid by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in mid 1990s. He was then assistant director of FIA.
NRO was issued by Gen Pervez Musharraf in 2007 to over 8,000 people, including President Asif Ali Zardari.
Malik had filed a petition in the High Court against the Accountability Court's ruling, following which the court had suspended the rulings of the accountability court (against him) and granted him bail.
Legal experts said Malik can now be arrested under the law.
"The minister is in the dock as even he moves to the Supreme Court against the decision of the LHC, he first will have to resign from his office," Muneeb Ahmed advocate said.
However, Justice (retired) Wajihuddin said Rehman Malik would continue to hold his office if succeeded to get a 'stay order or bail from the apex court.