LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Friday ruled that it had the jurisdiction to hear the petition of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif challenging the condition of indemnity bonds put by the government for one-time removal of his name from the Exit Control List.
Rejecting an argument by the government against the competence of the court to entertain the petition on the ground of territorial jurisdiction, a two-judge bench relied upon superior courts’ judgements cited by Mr Sharif’s counsel and observed that the petition was maintainable before the LHC.
Meanwhile, doctors have advised a repeat of medical tests of Mr Sharif in the wake of his critical condition.
The bench, comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem, heard lengthy arguments from both sides — the petitioner and the government — before declaring the petition maintainable in a decision announced at around 5:45pm.
“The arguments advanced by the learned additional attorney general that the conditions mentioned in the impugned memorandum are based upon the judgement pronounced by the accountability court, Islamabad, and challenged before the Islamabad High Court, therefore, this court lacks jurisdiction, has not impressed us,” said the bench in its three-page short verdict.
Ex-PM’s health ‘critical’, doctor advises repeat of tests
Initially, the court adjourned further hearing till Monday while directing both sides to come up with their arguments on the merits of the case.
However, senior lawyer Ashtar Ausaf, speaking on behalf of the former PM, requested the bench to decide the matter the same day in view of the urgency involved. He said: “It is a matter of life and death.” He said almost two weeks had passed since the Islamabad High Court suspended sentence of Mr Sharif on medical grounds, but the government had been dragging the matter pertaining to his travel abroad.
Justice Najafi said the court did not want to give an impression as if it was hearing the matter in haste.
“What is the opinion of the federation?” the judge asked Additional Attorney General Ishtiaq A. Khan. The law officer said it was better to resume hearing on Monday since he would also need ample time to prepare arguments.
Mr Ausaf urged the bench to suspend the impugned order if it was going to adjourn hearing to Monday.
Amjad Pervez, lead counsel for Mr Sharif, pointed out that the entire record of the case was before the bench and it would be appropriate to decide the matter forthwith.
Justice Najafi said: “We do want to make this an extraordinary case.”
“This is an extraordinary case,” responded Mr Pervez.
AAG Khan said the petitioner should avail the option of furnishing indemnity bonds of Rs7 billion if there was a real urgency in the matter.
“Clock can’t be reversed,” Mr Ausaf said while referring to the critical condition of Mr Sharif and requested the court not to delay the hearing beyond a day.
The bench finally decided to hear arguments on the merits of the case on Saturday (today) at 11am.
Earlier at the outset of the hearing, when the bench assembled at around 2:25pm, the government and NAB submitted their comments on the petition moved by PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif on behalf of his brother Nawaz Sharif.
After a quick perusal of the comments, Mr Ausaf said all the points stated by the government in its reply were already being discussed in the media.
The bench, however, asked the lawyer to properly examine the comments and observed that the court was supposed to rely on what was before it only and not on the media reports.
The bench reassembled at 3:30pm with the arguments from the petitioner’s side on the point of maintainability of the petition. Advocate Pervez referred to several judgements of superior courts on the issue of ECL, including that of former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and fashion model Ayan Ali.
However, the bench observed that the persons involved in the cases referred to by the counsel were not convicted rather were under trial.
The lawyer also referred to a 2009 judgement by the IHC titled “LPG Association of Pakistan versus Federation”, which was also relied upon by the bench in its decision.
The bench observed that the judgement held that the federal government functioned in the provinces which conferred the jurisdiction upon the provincial high courts to hear and adjudicate upon the matter relating thereto.
“Besides, the petitioner and Nawaz Sharif both are residents of Lahore and at present Nawaz Sharif is facing an inquiry in Chaudhry Sugar Mills before the NAB at Lahore,” observed that bench, adding that the IHC while suspending the sentence of Mr Sharif and granting him bail for eight weeks also directed him to approach the Punjab government for further actions.
Haematologist Dr Tahir Shamsi on Friday examined Nawaz Sharif at his Jati Umra residence and re-adjusted his medicines.
Mr Sharif’s personal physician Dr Adnan Khan said Dr Shamsi had suggested repeat of his medical tests. “Because of swelling on his body and other issues, adjustment has been made in the medicines of Mr Sharif,” he said.
“Those heartlessly targeting the former premier for not staying at hospital should know that he is on heavy doses of steroids and massive immunomodulation. It was not advisable for him to stay in hospital as hospital-acquired infections could even be fatal in impaired immunity,” he tweeted.
He said Mr Sharif was advised by doctors to be managed in isolation in an HDU facility. “Sharif Medical City managed one such facility at his house providing what’s necessary.”
Specialised doctors and nurses supervised by a medical board are providing Mr Sharif care round the clock,” he said.
Nawaz Sharif’s son Hussain Nawaz said in a tweet: “It doesn’t require time to tell that his incarceration is wrongful; everyone knows it. He [Nawaz] was disqualified on iqama, Avenfield decision was set aside and the reality of Azizia Steel case is known to all. Such incarceration has harsher rigours.”
Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2019