The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday, suspended the sentence of incarcerated of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al Azizia corruption reference for eight weeks on medical grounds.
The bail plea was filed by the PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, and the court had reserved its verdict for a short period before announcing it on Tuesday. The verdict of the IHC stated that Nawaz will have to provide two surety bonds, worth Rs2 million each to secure his release.
The court also added that in order to extend the bail, the PML-N must approach the Punjab government. Last week, Nawaz Sharif has obtained bail from the Lahore High Court (LHC) on medical grounds in the ongoing Chaudhry Sugar Mills corruption reference.
8 Week Bail
A two member bench of the IHC, consisting of Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani presided over the bail hearing. Before reserving the judgment, Justice Farooq asked Nawaz’s lawyer, Khawaja Haris, whether the president can provide amnesty to the former premier before the bail plea is announced.
Haris said, “He can deploy his presidential authority any time. However, as per the customs, all other forums must be approached first.”
The medical board apprised the court that Nawaz has been administered 80 injections to normalize his platelet count, and observed that the count has now stopped declining
The IHC observed that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) appears to be the only stakeholder in the matter with a clear stance, while the federal and provincial government are shying from taking a stance.
Justice Farooq asked Nawaz’s counsel, “On what condition should Nawaz be granted bail?”
Haris replied, “On whichever condition that can provide Nawaz Sharif an opportunity to recover his health.”
The two-member bench of the IHC presented Nawaz’s lawyer with four options:
- To take up the matter with the executive
- To suspend the sentence within the time frame proposed by the NAB
- Reject the application
- Approve the application for bail.Haris claimed that approaching the government would be unfruitful as the federal government is “staunchly against the Sharif family”. To this, Justice Kiyani responded, “The Prime Minister and Chief Minister belong to the entire country and province, rather than a political party.”
Nawaz’s counsel highlighted that the attorney general had also raised objections to the interim bail secured by Nawaz. He urged the IHC bench, “We have come to court with the hopes of settling the matter as per the law.”
Justice Kiyani said that if the government gives a decision on the matter, “it will not be regarded as a deal.” Nawaz’s counsel reiterated the request for the court to announce its verdict, and maintained that “we will respect the court’s decision.” The court then, reserved the verdict.
Nawaz Requires Medical Supervision
During the hearing, the two-member IHC bench questioned the doctors who are part of the medical board responsible for Nawaz’s treatment, whether it was possible for the former premier to recover without being admitted to the hospital.
The doctors said that the former premier is direly in need of medical supervision at all hours. The medical board apprised the court that Nawaz has been administered 80 injections to normalize his platelet count, and observed that the count has now stopped declining.
The doctors confirmed that Nawaz suffered a heart attack during his treatment. Nawaz’s personal physician, Dr. Adnan Khan was also present. Khan said that the medical board is unable to identify the exact cause behind the alarming decline in Nawaz’s platelet count. He informed the court that Dr. Raza Shamsi has been summoned from Karachi to continue the treatment.
The prosecutor of the accountability watchdog maintained that the NAB has no objections on the bail on humanitarian grounds and accepted that Nawaz’s condition is serious
Dr. Khan said, “Nawaz is still unstable. I have never seen him in such a disturbing condition.” He apprised the court that Nawaz’s blood pressure had risen alarming on Monday night as well.
Punjab Chief Minister, Usman Buzdar, also appeared in court today, and assured the two-member IHC bench that the Punjab government is ensuring the provision of the best medical care facilities to Nawaz. He informed the bench that the provincial government is also focused on ushering prison reforms.
Dissatisfied with Medical Care
Nawaz’s counsel, Khawaja Haris, said that the PML-N and Sharif family continue to remain unsatisfied with the medical care facilities provided to Nawaz Sharif.
He said, “So far, we remain dissatisfied with the medical board’s treatment, and the board, in its report, has itself mentioned that it is unable to manage his condition.”
Haris added, “Services Hospital does not have the equipment required for the medical tests. Nawaz has to be taken to multiple facilities to conduct the tests.”
Haris explained that Nawaz’s body is unable to naturally generate platelets and he is being administered steroids and medicines to increase the count. He said that the treatment to increase the platelet count put the former premier at a heightened risk to suffer a heart attack.
The lawyer maintained that his client was not dubious over the intentions or the credentials of the doctors appointed for his treatment, the medical board itself remains dissatisfied with the medical reports.
Haris asked, “Why doesn’t NAB provide a request for the suspension of the sentence? If Nawaz Sharif’s condition improves, he can continue serving his sentence again.”
The prosecutor of the accountability watchdog maintained that the NAB has no objections on the bail on humanitarian grounds and accepted that Nawaz’s condition is “serious”.
Justice Farooq asked the NAB prosecutor, “If we grant the bail, what should be the duration?” The NAB prosecutor responded that the court can decide as per the Supreme Court verdict, which granted a six-week bail for medical treatment within the country.