Nawaz Sharif's appeals for extension in bail, treatment in UK turned down by Supreme Court

Updated May 03, 2019

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Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif. — AP/File
Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif. — AP/File

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif's plea seeking an extension in his six-week bail — which expires on May 7 — in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case.

The court, in its short order, also rejected a related plea seeking permission for Nawaz's treatment in the United Kingdom.

The court remarked that Nawaz was given six weeks for medical treatment, but it seemed he had spent the entire time in tests alone.

During today's hearing, the chief justice remarked that the six-week bail was granted on the basis of a report from a medical board which had recommended angiography. With the latest plea for permission to go abroad, the counsel had exceeded from the scope of the initial petition, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said.

The counsel for Nawaz, Khawaja Harris Ahmed, had argued earlier that, according to the written order of the court, his client cannot apply for bail before surrendering himself to the authorities. He said that this aspect of the written order had some contradictions with the verbal orders issued in the case.

To this, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah reminded the counsel that anything said by judges before signing their verdict is called an observation and not a ruling.

The counsel then asked the court to extend his client's bail for eight more weeks. He argued that the health condition of his client was deteriorating. He said that the medical reports of Nawaz suggested an angiography.

To this, the chief justice responded that an angiography needs an hour, whereas the court had granted six weeks.

The counsel argued said that the blockage in Nawaz Sharif's carotid artery had increased by 50 per cent, "which is an alarming sign". He further said that a cardiac MRI is used across the world as an alternative for angiography but the process is not offered anywhere in the country.

The chief justice rejected the argument, saying that the doctors quoted in court had not said anything in this regard that may be considered to be a final assessment of Nawaz's medical condition.

However, the court turned down the objections and later denied the plea through a short order.

Later that evening, the ousted prime minister's daughter, Maryam Nawaz, took to Twitter to send a message to PML-N supporters in the wake of the court ruling.

"Nawaz Sharif is not paying the penalty for any crime but is suffering for being the voice of the people. The more difficult his sacrifices are, the fruit they bear will be that much sweeter and this fruit will be there for the coming generations [to benefit from]. I will say this again: Nawaz Sharif will God-willing not let your heads hang in shame. This struggle is for you all," she wrote.

Nawaz wants more time

On April 30, Nawaz had filed an application in the apex court seeking an extension in his six-week bail in the Al-Azizia corruption reference.

The application had called for an extension in bail — which expires on May 7 — until the verdict on his review petition concerning a March 26 order, through which Nawaz sought permission 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,” the petition filed by Nawaz through his counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed had argued.

The condition in question was that Nawaz surrender himself to the authorities before he applies for bail again.

The petition contended that the only feasible option available to Nawaz was to be treated by the same medical practitioners who were looking after him earlier in the United Kingdom. "Unforgivable damage will occur if the bail is not extended," the application had read.

Temporary relief

On March 26, the Supreme Court had suspended Nawaz’s sentence in the Azizia Steel Mills case and granted him bail for six weeks — but on the condition that he would not leave Pakistan during that period.

In its 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, Nawaz “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.

The order further said that Nawaz will have to surrender to the law once the six week period expired and that he could not apply for an extension in the bail without doing so.