ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday granted time to Nawaz Sharif’s counsel to prepare arguments on legal points in his petition requesting the court to “forgo the requirement of the Applicant’s surrender” by September 10 in the Al-Azizia reference. 

A two-member bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani would conduct hearing of the petition filed by the former Prime Minister through his counsel Khawaja Haris Advocate.

The IHC bench directed the counsel to present arguments on whether Nawaz Sharif would get relief without surrendering and deferred the hearing till September 15 for further proceedings.

The court said that Sharif did not surrender and that he was not being given an exemption and only his counsel Khawaja Harris was being granted some time to prepare arguments on legal points.

During the hearing, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor told the court that Sharif has been declared a proclaimed offender in the Toshakhana case by an Accountability Court (AC). He said that any decision by the court in the present appeal would impact other cases in which the former Prime Minister is nominated and that are being heard by accountability courts.

NAB Prosecutor Jahanzeb Bharwana said that Sharif did not comply with the court’s previous order of surrender and he should not get any relief after being declared a proclaimed offender in the Toshakhana (gift depository) reference. He added that there are prior court verdicts which say that appeals by a proclaimed offender cannot be heard.

At this, Nawaz’s lawyer said that they had applied for the appointment of a representative at the last hearing.

IHC asks if Nawaz Sharif has been submitted in any hospital yet

Then Justice Kayani asked from Sharif’s counsel that whether the former Prime Minister was admitted in a hospital. The counsel replied that the former premier was not being treated at any hospital. He further said that Nawaz Sharif is in the UK, and his doctor is in the United States.

Justice Kayani remarked that the former premier had not been admitted to any hospital in the past seven months. He also pointed out that while Sharif was in London, the doctor, who issued that certificate submitted by Sharif’s counsel, was in the United States.

He observed that if the patient is admitted to a hospital, it is understandable that he cannot become part of court proceedings but Sharif is not admitted to any hospital.

Additional Attorney General Tariq Khokhar presented the arguments on behalf of the federal government and said that Nawaz Sharif’s medical reports were incomplete, and the Punjab government had rejected his bail.

The court inquired that whether the government tried to find out about Nawaz’s health after November. The AAG replied that the government did not, because Nawaz was not admitted in any hospital.

Harris said that it was clearly written in the undertaking that Nawaz’s health will be reviewed through a representative of the high commission. Justice Farooq said that the federal government made no effort to bring Sharif back to the country.

The court observed that it first needs to be established if appeals by a person who has been declared as a proclaimed offender in a case can be heard. Haris urged the court to grant him more time.

The review petition was filed a day before the deadline given by the IHC to Nawaz to surrender before the court. The IHC had granted Nawaz an “opportunity” to surrender and present himself before the court by September 10.

The petition included recent medical reports and requested the court to go ahead with the hearings in the presence of the former prime minister’s counsels.

Sharif told the court that the undertaking that was taken from him had included the condition that the government would first check in on his health. He added that the federal government had not made any efforts in this matter.

“The federal government does not have any authentic information about my health,” he adopted in his petition. He also added that the doctors have not issued any certificate that would declare him “fit” to return home.

In his petition, Sharif also ensured the court that he “shall return to Pakistan and personally face all his cases as soon as he regains his health.”

The medical reports attached with the application also included advice of American cardiologist Dr Fayyaz Shaal. The US doctor has said that the former Prime Minister needs an angiography and a surgery in case it is needed.