LAHORE: PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz Sharif got a relief from the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday after the court directed officials to return her passport which she had surrendered in compliance with a verdict in 2019.

A full bench headed by LHC Chief Justice Mohammad Ameer Bhatti decided the petition after hearing final arguments from the counsels of Ms Sharif, the federal government and National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Ms Sharif’s lawyer Advocate Amjad Pervez told the bench that the PML-N vice president had submitted her passport after the court had granted her bail in Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.

The counsel pointed out that the NAB has failed to complete the investigation or file a reference despite the lapse of four years.

Court confiscated the passport in Chaudhry Sugar Mills case in 2019

The chief justice asked Advocate Pervez why his client did not approach the Supreme Court against the LHC order on the surrender of the passport.

He replied that the previous PTI-led government was filing back-to-back cases against the petitioner, therefore, she had decided to wait for the outcome of the investigation of the case.

Chief Justice Bhatti asked the counsel whether the condition of surrendering the passport in the bail granting order was valid. “Whether the bail granting order needs to be amended or withdrawn to return the passport to the petitioner?” he remarked.

Advocate Pervez said the bench could amend the order and remove the condition regarding the passport.

NAB’s deputy prosecutor general told the court that no investigation was currently underway against the petitioner in the said case.

In its written reply, the bureau had earlier apprised the court that it did not require Ms Sharif’s passport.

Subsequently, the bench allowed Ms Sharif’s petition and ordered the deputy registrar (judicial) to return her passport. The bench also disposed of two identical petitions pending since 2019.

At the outset of the hearing, Advocate Pervez tendered an unconditional apology for not reaching in time before the court on the previous hearing. However, the bench said it had no personal issue with the matter.

In her reaction over the verdict, Ms Sharif said her passport was held for three years in a case that was never filed against her.

“My passport has been returned. Alhamdulillah. But, do you know my passport was confiscated in a case which was never filed against me,” she tweeted.

Referring to former prime minister Imran Khan, she claimed that he was scared of her rallies and that’s why kept her in a death cell in Adiala Prison. But the case was not filed even till today.

In November 2019, a two-member bench of the LHC had granted a post-arrest bail to Ms Sharif in the case, observing that the “bail cannot be withheld as a punishment”.

The bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem had asked Ms Sharif to furnish Rs10 million surety bonds, with two sureties each in the like amount to the satisfaction of the trial court. She was also ordered to deposit an amount of Rs70m with the court ‘to establish her bona fide’ and submit her passport as the prosecution feared she might flee the country.

NAB had arrested Ms Sharif in Aug 2019 when she went to Kot Lakhpat jail to see her incarcerated father, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The LHC has already granted bail to ex-PM Sharif in the same case on medical grounds.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2022

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