The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday granted bail on medical grounds to former premier Nawaz Sharif in the Al Azizia reference till Tuesday, October 29.
The development came shortly after National Accountability Bureau (NAB), in its response to the IHC cited humanitarian grounds and said that it has "no objections to bail being granted".
The court instructed that two surety bonds worth Rs2 million each be submitted to secure Nawaz's release.
Nawaz, a day earlier, had also secured bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.
Sources within PML-N told DawnNewsTV that Nawaz will continue his treatment at Services Hospital "as he is not in a condition to be shifted anywhere". The family has expressed satisfaction at his treatment there, saying that it is "headed in the right direction", said the sources.
A plea had been filed by PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif seeking bail for his brother, Nawaz Sharif, in the Al Azizia case.
The court had earlier on Saturday accepted a request by Shehbaz to hear the bail application today, instead of Tuesday.
Nawaz's counsel regretted that Nawaz's health had not been taken seriously for a long time. "He was purposely taken away from jail to NAB. He was already in jail and could have been investigated there."
He claimed that his "medical treatment was not done and his doctor was kept away". The counsel demanded a probe into fears expressed by Nawaz's children of him "being poisoned".
He thanked the people for their prayers and the media for highlighting the matter which "sprung the government into action out of fear". He also expressed his gratitude to the court for having issued a "just" verdict.
A two-member bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani heard Shehbaz's request for the bail of his brother.
During the course of the hearing, the chief justice remarked that the request for bail on medical grounds should not have been filed with the court to begin with, as the government has the authority to decide on such a matter.
Addressing the interior secretary, Chief Justice Minallah said: "You have half an hour to ask the NAB chairman whether he will oppose the judgment or submit an affidavit (declaring he has no objections)."
Once the court hearing resumed after a brief recess, the chief justice made clear the fact that "if the government will oppose the request for bail, then [the court] will dismiss the request".
"However, if something happens to Nawaz Sharif in this time, the onus will be on NAB and the government."
The chief justice put forth the question once more: "Does the government oppose the granting of bail [to Nawaz Sharif]?"
"We are unable to comment on the matter at this time," replied the interior secretary.
At this, Chief Justice Minallah said: "Do not put the entire responsibility (of the outcome of the verdict) on the court's shoulders. If you are confident that nothing will happen to Nawaz Sharif till Tuesday, then take responsibility."
The court has given the government till Tuesday to submit a detailed medical report, according to DawnNewsTV.
While the additional attorney general said that the federal government "has no role in the matter", the interior secretary remarked: "We cannot take any responsibility."
The interior secretary further contended: "You should base your judgment on the merits of the case."
"If you are unwilling to submit an affidavit, there must indeed be something wrong," said Chief Justice Minallah. "This court will not take any responsibility," he declared.
The Punjab advocate general then sought permission to take the matter up with Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. Granting permission, the court once more put the hearing on a brief hold.
When the session resumed, after a response by the NAB chairman declaring no objections to bail, the court announced its decision to grant Nawaz interim bail till Tuesday.
The IHC, during today's hearing also instructed the federal government to seek reports from all provincial governments over the measures taken for ailing prisoners. The interior secretary was told to submit a report to the court in this regard within 15 days.
The court said that the report should mention how many prisoners died during incarceration owing to the provincial government's failure to act on the authority provided to it.
The report must also detail which court orders have been implemented regarding the treatment of prisoners.
The court, while issuing today's decision, summoned Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Tuesday. It said Buzdar must make a personal appearance that day.
The IHC said that it had given the Punjab government instructions on sick prisoners in a June judgment but on the interior secretary's query today, the Punjab chief minister had expressed ignorance over the matter.
Court session on plea for urgent hearing
Earlier in the day, when the court convened to decide on the request for an urgent hearing, the bench noted that a medical report had been submitted in the court during yesterday's hearing of the bail plea and inquired why a request for an early hearing had to be filed today.
Lawyer Khawaja Haris claimed that Nawaz had suffered a "minor heart attack" last night and that his "life is in danger". A copy of a verdict issued by the Lahore High Court yesterday, in which Nawaz had been granted bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case, was also submitted in the court.
The IHC issued notices to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and National Accountability Bureau Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal and directed them to send a representative to court by 4pm today.
Shehbaz had appealed the IHC to grant bail to Nawaz in the Al Azizia case — in which the latter is sentenced to seven years in prison — on medical grounds earlier this week. A two-member bench of the IHC had heard the bail petition yesterday and after questioning Services Hospital Medical Superintendent (MS) Dr Saleem Cheema, who is part of the medical board treating Nawaz, the high court had adjourned hearing until Tuesday.
In the appeal filed today, Shehbaz urged the court to take up the bail plea today owing to Nawaz's "extremely critical condition". It said that the plea, which was heard yesterday, did not mention that on the night of October 24, Nawaz had suffered an angina attack "as a direct result of the medicine being administered to him to enhance his platelets".
Nawaz gets bail in sugar mills case
Yesterday, Nawaz had been granted bail in the ongoing Chaudhry Sugar Mills case by the Lahore High Court, where Shehbaz had filed a similar plea.
The former premier was rushed to the Services Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS) earlier this week after his personal physician raised an alarm about his deteriorating health.
On Tuesday, doctors at the hospital had termed Nawaz's condition as 'serious' despite the transfusion of three mega units of platelets within hours of his admission.
According to the medical tests carried out on Tuesday, the platelet count of the former premier had "dropped from 16,000 to a critical level of 2,000" when he was brought to hospital late on Monday night, prompting the medical board members to go for "immediate transfusion of the platelets to save his life", one of the board members had said.
After a struggle of three days, a six-member medical board, headed by Services Hospital Principal Ayaz Mahmood, on Thursday diagnosed the reason for Nawaz's declining health.
"It is acute immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a bleeding disorder, in which the immune system destroys platelets," a board member had told Dawn. He said the treatment was given to the former prime minister in the light of his diagnosis. "We are hopeful that his condition will improve in a few days," he added.
Surety bonds submitted
Meanwhile, an accountability court in Lahore issued the release orders of Nawaz in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case after two surety bonds worth Rs10 million each were submitted by PML-N's Saiful Mulook Khokhar. Accountability judge Ameer Mohammad Khan issued the orders.
Additional reporting by Rana Bilal and Adnan Sheikh.