ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Curt (IHC) Monday raised questions over the status of former prime minister and PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif’s bail in the Al-Azizia reference.

A two-member bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq raised the questions while hearing a petition of Sharif challenging his non-bailable arrest warrants issued by an accountability court and requesting the court to permit him to join the Toshakhana reference proceedings through his pleader.

In his petition filed through Barrister Jahangir Khan Jadoon, Nawaz Sharif, who is currently in the UK and is facing a case related to securing a luxury vehicle from Toshakhana, made Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB), judge of the accountability court-III and the investigation officer in Toshakhana reference as respondents.

The court stated in its order that the counsels were heard and they were not able to satisfy the court regarding maintainability of the petition. It is noted that the conviction and sentence handed down by the learned Accountability Court was assailed by the petitioner by preferring Crl. Appeal No.01/2019 titled ‘Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif vs The State through Chairman NAB, etc.’ in Al-Azizia case.

The court noted, “The sentence was suspended for a specified period based on the report of a medical board constituted by the Government of Punjab. The latter could have extended the suspension of sentence if satisfied that the medical condition of the petitioner warranted so. It is noted that the name of the petitioner was not ordered to be removed from the Exit Control List by this Court.

In reply to a query, the counsels informed the court that the name of the petitioner was removed from the Exit Control List pursuant to the decision taken by the Federal Cabinet.

“However, neither the federal government nor the NAB informed this Court regarding the fate of the suspended sentence nor that the name of the petitioner was being removed from the Exist Control List. The petitioner also did not inform this Court nor had sought permission before proceeding abroad,” maintained the IHC bench.

It added that in case the suspended sentence on medical ground was not extended by the Government of Punjab, then in such an eventuality the petitioner was required to surrender himself before this Court or to have challenged the executive order before the competent court vested with territorial jurisdiction. 

The bench observed that the jurisdiction of this Court vested under Article 199 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 is extra ordinary and equitable, therefore, in order to claim relief the petitioner has to satisfy us that he has invoked the constitutional jurisdiction with clean hands.

Then, the counsels of former prime minister sought adjournment to seek instructions regarding status of suspension of sentence and argue the maintainability of the petition on the next date of hearing.

Therefore, the IHC bench deferred hearing in this matter till August 20 for further proceedings.