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Nawaz seeks SC permission to go abroad for treatment

Updated April 26, 2019

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Former premier wants apex court to review its March 26 order on bail condition. ─ APP/File
Former premier wants apex court to review its March 26 order on bail condition. ─ APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday sought the Supreme Court’s permission to go abroad for medical treatment, four weeks after the apex court granted him bail but did not allow him to leave the country.

“Given the complicated and life-threatening nature of ischemic heart disease, carotid artery disease, lymphadenopathy and renal artery stenosis, from which the petitioner (Nawaz Sharif) is admittedly suffering….. it is in the interest of justice that condition imposed for the petitioner’s release on bail merits review,” argued a review petition filed by Mr Sharif through his counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed.

It contended that the only feasible option available to Mr Sharif was to be treated by the same set of medical practitioners who had been treating him earlier in the United Kingdom.

On March 26, the Supreme Court had suspended Mr Sharif’s sentence and granted him bail for six weeks only with a condition that he would not leave Pakistan during that period.

Former premier wants apex court to review its March 26 order on bail condition

All the previous and fresh reports and recommendations by special medical boards as well as different specialists regarding Mr Sharif’s health were enclosed with the petition.

The former premier had challenged the Feb 25 Islamabad High Court order of turning down his bail plea on medical grounds in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference. The PML-N supreme leader is on bail in the Avenfield properties reference in which an accountability court had convicted and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. The IHC had suspended the sentence.

The fresh review petition argued that while granting the bail to Mr Sharif, the apex court had in its March 26 order presumed that on the expiry of six weeks from the date of release from custody, he would inevitably regain his health sufficiently and the strength to go back to jail or to suffer rigorous incarceration in jail not withstanding his medical condition after treatment.

“This presumption is not based on any factual or legal premise and as such the March 26 order, to the extent to which it is based on this presumption, merits to be reviewed,” it contended.

The petition regretted that the portion of the order which was read out in the open court was omitted in the written order, which stated that if any extension was required in his bail, Mr Sharif could approach the Islamabad High Court. “This may be due to a typographical error, but nevertheless remains an error apparent on the face of the record,” the petition said.

Likewise, it added, the other condition that stated that surrender to custody by the petitioner would not include surrender before a court also merit to be reviewed, it said.

The petition recalled that since the release of Mr Sharif on bail pursuant to suspension of the sentence on March 26, a medical board was constituted at the Sharif Medical City on March 27, which convened its first meeting on March 28 and the second on April 2.

The medical board suggested MRI and MRA of head and neck and cardiac stress MRI, but the diagnosis made, the examination conducted besides the treatment so far administered and recommended unequivocally showed that the treatment of Mr Sharif as well as full recovery were not possible within the period of six weeks for which the bail had been granted to the petitioner, it contended.

“Thus Mr Sharif merits to be released on bail without specification of any condition and the March 26 order merits to be reviewed accordingly,” the petition argued, requesting the apex court to modify its earlier directives.

In its March 26 order, the Supreme Court had recalled that because of long, complicated cardiac surgical history, cardiac surgical backup was recommended during catheterisation. It has clearly been mentioned in such reports that while undergoing angiography, Mr Sharif “will be at a mild [to] moderate risk of contrast including nephropathy”, the order said.

“In this peculiar backdrop, and extending due deference to the consistent medical opinion of senior doctors, counsel’s prayer regarding Nawaz Sharif’s admission to bail upon suspension of his sentence for a limited period has been found by us to be reasonable. This petition is, therefore, converted into an appeal and the same is allowed and consequently Nawaz Sharif is admitted to bail upon suspension of his sentence,” the order concluded.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2019