ISLAMABAD  -   Islamabad High Court on Monday issued notices to National Accountability Bureau in an application of former premier Mian Nawaz Sharif’s application for withdrawal of his earlier petition seeking bail and suspension of his sentence in Al-Azizia reference.

A division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard the application of Mian Nawaz Sharif moved through his counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed and deferred the hearing till Tuesday (today), directing the NAB to submit its reply in this regard.

During the hearing, Sharif’s counsel requested the court for withdrawal of the general writ petition. He told the court that Sharif’s defence team had decided to pursue the writ petition for suspension of the Al-Azizia sentence on medical grounds.

Later, the dual bench scheduled hearings of both suspension of sentence pleas on Tuesday (today) and sought NAB’s comments on the withdrawal of the general writ petition.

Khawaja Harris said that his client intended to withdraw writ petition No 32 seeking bail and suspension of his conviction because he desired to pursue his plea seeking suspension of sentence and his release on bail on medical grounds.

The counsel added that Sharif’s two writ petitions were pending before the court against Al-Azizia case. He continued that the Constitution stated that relief was not granted on a matter with 2 writ petitions. So, he said, “I want that the court may hear only petition No 352 so that my client can be released on medical grounds.”

In this matter of former premier Nawaz Sharif seeking his release from jail on medical grounds, the IHC dual bench had, previously, sought reply from NAB and Punjab government and deferred hearing till February 12 (Tuesday).

However, the NAB prosecutor had opposed the bail plea and argued that the sentence of a convict could not be suspended on medical grounds. Kot Lakhpat Jail’s officials had also submitted medical reports of the former premier to the bench. According to the reports, Sharif was suffering from disease related to heart arteries and it was necessary to maintain his blood sugar chart.

In the petition, the former prime minister has sought suspension of 7-year sentence awarded to him by accountability court Judge Arshad Malik in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment case and his release on medical grounds.

Sharif has made the chairman NAB, the accountability judge and Kot Lakhpat jail’s superintendent as respondents.

According to the petition, under Section 342 of the criminal procedure code (CrPC), the former premier had refuted all allegations levelled against him and taken a categorical stance that the prosecution had miserably failed to discharge the onus placed on it to prove any of the allegations against him.

It stated that Sharif had been accused of establishing Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment in the name of his children. The court, however, convicted him by linking him with these companies for transactions into his account from the HME. The former prime minister through his legal team challenged the conviction on January 1 and filed a petition seeking suspension of the sentence which after a preliminary hearing has been fixed for February 18.

He adopted in his new petition that the petitioner had now come to know that the appeal and writ petition filed by him have been fixed by the office for February 18.

The petition said that Sharif had felt pain in both his arms and numbness of toes. Given his medical history, the matter was reported to the jail superintendent who referred him for medical examination to the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Lahore, and the Allama Iqbal Medical College/Jinnah Hospital, Lahore.

It added that a special medical board was separately constituted to evaluate the health condition of the petitioner. Although the medical examination of the petitioner was conducted by each of the special medical boards on January 16 and a preliminary report, in the case of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Lahore, and a final report, in the case of the Allama Iqbal Medical College, was prepared on January 16 and 17, respectively, none of these reports, or the results of the lab tests on which the same are based, were shared by the respective board or their heads with the petitioner or his personal physician till January 22 while final report of PIC, Lahore, was made available on January 24.

It maintained, “In the light of the findings given and recommendations made by the two special medical boards in their respective reports as reproduced in the foregoing paragraphs, the petitioner prays for the suspension of his sentence and release on bail pending final decision of his appeal on purely medical grounds as a case of extreme hardship.”

Sharif said that the petitioner is ready and willing to furnish the surety bonds to the entire satisfaction of this court, undertakes to appear before this court on each and every date of hearing fixed in appeal filed by him.

Therefore, he prayed to the court that during pendency of the appeal filed by him against the judgment dated December 24, 2018, this court may suspend the execution of the sentences passed against him and he be released on bail.