IHC gives one more chance to Nawaz Sharif to appear before the court

Nawaz Sharif no more on bail- surrender before the court till September 10

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) said it was allowing the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and convict in Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment references one more chance to surrender him by appearing before the court by September 10.

Islamabad High Court in its written order has asked former prime minister to surrender and appear before the court on September 10. The IHC made it clear that Nawaz Sharif is not on bail anymore. We are not declaring Nawaz Sharif absconder and giving him an opportunity to appear before the court.   

A two-member bench of the IHC, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani hear the petition filed by former prime minister seeking exemption from hearing on medical grounds in appeals pertaining to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment references.

NAB Prosecutor General Jahanzeb Bharwana in his arguments opposed the appeal filed by Nawaz against his exemption of appearance. He pointed to the court that both the appeals were not fit for a hearing.

“A detailed undertaking should be taken [from Nawaz Sharif] along with the appeals,” said Bharwana. He added that the failure of the former prime minister to appear before the court was absconding. “Punjab government’s order to dismiss Nawaz Sharif’s bail has not been challenged anywhere,” the NAB lawyer told the court.

However, court rejected the NAB’s request to declare the former prime minister fugitive. It added that they will give a date to the former prime minister to surrender. “We will not declare Nawaz Sharif a fugitive. We will give one chance to Nawaz Sharif to surrender,” remarked Justice Farooq.

The court directed the federal government to present a report on his health and adjourned proceedings of the petition till September 10.

At the start of the hearing, Nawaz Sharif’s counsel, Khawaja Haris, told the bench that his client’s bail was approved after the suspension of his sentence in the Avenfield reference. He added that the former prime minister got a conditional bail in the Al-Azizia reference.

“The current status of Nawaz Sharif is that he is not out on bail. This is a legal position that he is not on bail,” Haris told the court.

The lawyer informed the court that the former prime minister had gone out of the country for medical treatment. He added that his client’s plea to extend the bail was rejected when he was abroad.

Harris told the court that multiple medical boards, including private and government, were formed regarding the elder Sharif’s illness. He added that they recommended that the former premier be sent abroad for medical treatment. He also told the court that the reasons for the former prime minister to not return to the country were also mentioned in the plea.

“Shouldn’t have Nawaz Sharif surrendered to the court after the expiry of his bail,” the court asked Khawaja Harris. To this, Harris informed the bench that his client’s case was “unique” and he will give a “detailed briefing on why his client did not surrender before the court”. He added that the illness that Nawaz Sharif had could not be treated in Pakistan.

The lawyer informed the court that they had approached the Lahore High Court (LHC) for the removal of Nawaz Sharif’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL). “An undertaking was given that Nawaz would return to Pakistan once he recovers,” he said. “Nawaz Sharif was allowed to go abroad once on medical grounds,” said Haris.

Upon this, Justice Farooq intervened and observed that Nawaz Sharif's bail was “conditional and was applicable for a “specific period”.

Haris then informed the court that his client's medical reports were submitted to the Punjab government but his request to extend the bail was rejected.

“When did Punjab government reject the request to extend the bail?” asked the court. To this, Haris informed that the provincial government had rejected the request on February 27.

If LHC ordered the removal of name from the ECL then [does] this mean that the Al-Azizia sentence [has been] finished,” asked the court. It added that IHC had suspended the sentence for a “specific time period”.

“After the LHC order can the IHC order be superseded?” questioned the court.

While Justice Kayani asked Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer if the Punjab government had shared all the documents related to the case.

“We have submitted a report on this to the registrar of the high court,” responded Haris to the judge’s query. He also added that neither the federal government nor any high commission reviewed Nawaz Sharif’s medical reports.

“Is Nawaz Sharif admitted in a hospital?” asked Justice Kayani. To this, Haris responded saying that by not being admitted in the hospital does not mean that the former premier is not under treatment in London.

“We are concerned about the bail,” Justice Farooq told the lawyer. He added that matter regarding Nawaz’s name on ECL was in the LHC. The bench was looking into the matter of bail and suspension of sentence, the judge remarked. “The order of this court will also affect the LHC verdict,” observed Justice Farooq.

Next hearing of this case will be on September 10.

                                                                 


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