Home South Asia Pakistan Nawaz Sharif’s bail plea on medical grounds rejected

Nawaz Sharif’s bail plea on medical grounds rejected

IHC's two-member bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani pronounced the verdict after hearing arguments from Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris and the prosecutor for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

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News Desk |

The Islamabad High Court on Thursday rejected former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s bail petition seeking release from jail on medical grounds in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani pronounced the verdict after hearing arguments from Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris and the prosecutor for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Sharif’s counsel had argued before the court that his client was suffering from multiple ailments and could only be treated abroad for which he should be granted bail. Haris feared for Sharif’s life citing his health problems including diabetes, blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. He maintained that the ex-premier was under great mental stress because of his ailments. NAB’s prosecutor opposed the bail application saying the grounds in the application did not merit bail.

On March 26, the apex court had released Sharif on bail for six weeks but “made it clear that during this period the petitioner shall not leave or be allowed to leave the country”.

The former premier, who has been serving a seven-year prison term at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail since December 24, 2018, was granted a six-week bail on March 26 to get medical treatment. However, Nawaz filed a civil review petition against the order on April 27 which was dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Sharif Seeks Bail on Medical Grounds

The incarcerated ex-PM Sharif had approached IHC and sought bail in Al-Azizia reference. The former PM through his counsel had included opinions of specialist doctors from Switzerland, the United States of America and the United Kingdom in the petition seeking release from jail on medical grounds.

In the petition, Haris stated that the medical specialists from the UK, USA, and Switzerland, all members of the special medical board constituted to examine petitioner’s health and doctors associated with three hospitals in Lahore – Doctors Hospital, Sheikh Zayed Hospital, and National Hospital – were unanimous that Sharif’s treatment was not possible in jail premises.

Read more: Permanent bail for Nawaz on Health Grounds; Will it Work?

The counsel said that Sharif is suffering from numerous diseases, adding the doctors have said that his condition is life-threatening and tension and stress can prove to be threatening to his life. The petition added that his blood and sugar levels have not normalized. Subsequently, he prayed the court to grant bail on medical grounds.

SC Dismisses Sharif’s Review Petition Seeking Medical Treatment in UK

Earlier, the Supreme Court had dismissed Sharif’s review petition seeking permanent bail on medical grounds and permission to go abroad for treatment.

SC’s three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had dismissed the application and remarked that six-week bail was granted to Sharif to get treatment but the time was spent only on further investigation by conducting more tests. “It seems his life is not in danger,” the court had remarked. With the dismissal of the application, the ex-PM went back to Kot Lakhpat jail on May 7 after his bail period expired.

On March 26, the apex court had released Sharif on bail for six weeks but “made it clear that during this period the petitioner shall not leave or be allowed to leave the country”. While requesting the court to review its earlier order, Haris had stated that restricting Sharif to get his medical treatment in Pakistan only merits review.

In the review petition, Sharif had prayed to the apex court to modify the March 26 order and allow him to travel to the UK abroad for medical treatment, however, the apex court had dismissed the plea.

Before being released on SC orders, Sharif was serving a seven-year prison sentence since December 24, 2018, awarded to him by an accountability court in the AlAzizia corruption reference of NAB.

In the petition, Haris had stated that Sharif was facing complicated and life-threatening nature of the ischemic heart disease, carotid artery disease, lymphadenopathy, and renal artery stenosis coupled with co-morbid diseases including blood pressure, Type II diabetes mellitus and third-stage chronic kidney disease. He had maintained that the medical professionals in Pakistan recommended that he should be treated by the practitioners who were earlier seeing him in the UK.

In the review petition, Sharif had prayed to the apex court to modify the March 26 order and allow him to travel to the UK abroad for medical treatment, however, the apex court had dismissed the plea.

SC’s Bail Terms for Sharif

Before being released on six-week bail, the Supreme Court had set certain conditions. The conditions said that Sharif shall not leave or be allowed to leave the country, bail will automatically be canceled upon expiry of six weeks from the date of release and Sharif will have to surrender custody voluntarily, failing which he will be arrested.

Read more: SC dismisses Nawaz’s application seeking medical treatment in UK

Also, the court had said, he would not be allowed to apply for further bail till he surrenders his custody and he was allowed treatment from medical practitioners and to avail medical facilities of his choice in Pakistan.

Moreover, the order said, if, during the period of his bail, the IHC rules adversely in the appeal filed by Sharif before the IHC, the IHC will have full authority to decide how and when to arrest him. With no further relief in bailSharif had surrendered before jail authorities on May 7.

Sharif, Panama and Courts

Sharif remained the prime minister of Pakistan from 1990 to 1993, from 1997 until a coup in 1999 and from 2013 till the Supreme Court removed him from office in July 2017 on account of failing to disclose part of a salary drawn from his son’s company located in UAE.

In the second case, he was jailed for seven years when the accountability court ruled that he was unable to show where he obtained the money he used to buy the AlAzizia Steel Mill in Saudi Arabia. 

Later, the Supreme Court ruled that July 2017 decision to oust Sharif meant that he will have to stay away from politics for the rest of his life. He was ousted by SC after the Panama Papers leaks revealed that his children allegedly owned offshore companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and that they used them to buy properties in London, UK.

Panama Papers, a trove of leaked documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca implicated dozens of politicians and powerful international figures in shady offshore business dealings. Sharif was the second world leader, along with the former prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, to resign as a result of the leak.

After his cases were sent to an accountability court in Islamabad for trial proceedings, he was convicted in two NAB cases – Avenfield Apartments and Al Azizia Steel Mills references – for not disclosing sources of income.

Sharif has always denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the charges are politically motivated. After being convicted in the London properties reference by the accountability court, the IHC had suspended his sentence until the final decision on his appeal.

Read more: Panama Judgement: The Other Side

In the second case, he was jailed for seven years when the accountability court ruled that he was unable to show where he obtained the money he used to buy the AlAzizia Steel Mill in Saudi Arabia. Sharif has challenged both convictions and the appeals process in both cases is ongoing.

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