On Monday, a three-judge full bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) was assembled to hear Maryam Nawaz, vice president of the PML-N, about her case for the return of her passport.
Justices Tariq Saleem Sheikh and Ali Baqar Najafi will also serve on the new bench, which will be presided over by Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti. On September 14, the bench would take up the case (Wednesday).
It is important to note that the PML-N leader’s efforts to regain her passport have been the subject of a drawn-out court fight, since all benches assigned to the petition up until this point had to be disbanded when many judges withdrew from the case for a variety of reasons.
Three days after a two-member panel referred the petition to the chief justice, one of its members recused himself, and a new full bench will now take up the issue.
A twitter user expressed his views on the situation.
Justice Ali Baqar Najfi, LHC judge who allowed convicted criminal Nawaz Sharif to flee from country on Rs. 50 stamp paper guarantee, is to hear plea of another convicted criminal Maryam Safdar today. she wants her passport back to fly out of country
— خالد (@khalid_pk) September 8, 2022
The petition had been heard by a panel that included Justices Muhammad Anwarul Haq Pannun and Ali Baqar Najafi. The bench then forwarded the appeal to the chief justice with a request to have it heard by any other suitable bench.
Three judges turned down Maryam’s appeal earlier this year for a passport so she could go to Saudi Arabia and perform the Umrah. She was given post-arrest bail by the panel, which was presided over by Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi and made the observation that the matter should be heard by the appropriate bench that had already heard it.
Read More: Maryam Nawaz again seeks return of her passport
Later, the case was tried by a different division bench presided over by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi. Justice Farooq Haider, a fellow judge, declined to hear the case for reasons that were best known to Justice Najafi when the proceedings got underway.
The request to bring this case before any bench was included in a letter addressed with the case file to Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti.
After then, the case was heard by a different bench headed by Justice Najafi, however Justice Asjad Javed Ghural withdrew from the proceedings. The LHC chief justice was then contacted once more to have it heard by a different bench.
Last but not least, the petitioner withdrew it.
After being granted post-arrest bail in the Chaudhary Sugar Mills Limited (CSML) case nearly four years ago after submitting surety bonds in the amount of Rs10 million each from two sureties with the trial court and separately depositing Rs70 million with the deputy registrar, the PML-N recently made another application to the high court for the return of her passport. She had surrendered it before the LHC deputy registrar.
Maryam said in a new civil miscellaneous document she submitted alongside her ongoing writ suit that “after a delay of around four years, no reference has been filed against the petitioner as of today despite the fact that the inquiry was started on November 14, 2018.”
“The retention of the passport for an indeterminate period tantamounts to being in violation of her fundamental rights to treatment in accordance with the law, life, liberty, right of mobility, and equal protection of the law,” the PML-N leader argued.
The statement continued, “[A] presumption of innocence is essential and [the] accused does not lose fundamental rights of treatment even during trial, pursuant to established principles of administration of criminal justice system as well as fundamental rights due process and fair trial guaranteed, vide Article 10-A of the constitution.”