The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday adjourned the hearing of a petition seeking the removal of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's name from the Exit Control List (ECL).
A two-member bench, headed by Justice Tariq Abbasi, presided over the proceedings.
Asked by the court when Nawaz is expected to return, his counsel contended that the former premier is currently undergoing medical treatment abroad as he is unwell.
He added that all of Nawaz's medical reports are being periodically submitted to the relevant authorities with due diligence.
At this, the prosecution lawyer questioned why Nawaz had not returned despite the fact that his four-week travel allowance had expired.
This prompted Justice Chaudhry Mushtaq to ask the prosecution lawyer to refrain from giving political statements and to stick to the law.
The court observed that according to the order issued by the LHC, Nawaz must return to the country after getting a fitness certificate from his doctors.
The court said that the government can file a separate request if they do not believe reports regarding Nawaz's health.
However, the prosecution lawyer maintained that if Nawaz wanted an extension in his stay abroad, he should have contacted the government.
The court adjourned the hearing for a later date.
In November last year, the government had announced that the former prime minister will be given a "one-time" permission to travel abroad for his medical treatment for a period of four weeks.
Speaking at a news conference at the time, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem said the permission was "not conditional to anyone's consent" and was granted to fulfil the government's obligations in view of Nawaz's "adverse critical medical condition".
However, the government had asked the Sharif family to submit an indemnity bond "to the tune of Rs7-7.5 billion".
Following this, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had rejected the government's decision, terming it "biased" and "based on revenge politics".
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif announced that the party's legal team had approached the LHC against the condition of submitting indemnity bonds and had accused the government of playing "dirty politics".
On Nov 16, the LHC had allowed Nawaz to travel abroad for a period of four weeks, extendable on the basis of medical reports and had suspended the condition of submitting indemnity bonds.
The bench had granted the permission mainly in the light of undertakings, with slight modifications, submitted on behalf of the Sharif brothers.
In his undertaking, Nawaz had said: "I undertake to return to Pakistan as per my past record to face the process of law and justice within four weeks or as soon as I am declared healthy and fit to travel back to Pakistan by my doctors. I also do hereby bind myself to the undertaking given by my brother Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif.”
Shehbaz's undertaking had added: "I do hereby undertake to ensure return of my brother Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, within four weeks or as and when certified by doctors that he has regained his health and is fit to return to Pakistan. I further undertake to provide/send the periodical medical reports of the doctor duly notarised by the embassy to the registrar of this court."
Subsequently, Nawaz had left for London for medical treatment during his bail period of four weeks without the condition of submitting indemnity bonds.
Cafe picture creates controversy
Earlier this month, a picture of Nawaz at a London restaurant along with some members of his family had surfaced on social media raising questions about the 'serious nature' of the former premier's health.
Federal Science Minister Fawad Chaudhry had uploaded the photo on his Twitter account.
Making a satirical comment, the outspoken minister said: “In London’s intensive care unit, the treatment against plundering is underway and all patients present (there) are feeling better.”
Scampering to do damage control, the PML-N had submitted a letter from a leading cardiac surgeon terming the ex-PM’s stay in the UK "vital" for his health management.
However, the Punjab government had rejected Nawaz's medical reports which had been submitted on Dec 23, 2019 which meant that a decision on Nawaz's application, submitted to the provincial government for an extension in his stay abroad on the expiry of the four-week period, might further be delayed.