IHC to take up petition against issuance of diplomatic passport to Nawaz Sharif

ISLAMABAD   –   The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will Monday (today) take up a petition seeking court’s directions to government to stop it from issuance of diplomatic passport to PML-N Quaid and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah will conduct hearing of the petition moved by a lawyer Naeem Haider Panjutha who also sought court’s directions to the relevant authorities to immediately arrest the former prime minister on his return to Pakistan from London as Sharif is a convict and court absconder and produce him before the court of competent jurisdiction.

The petitioner filed the petition referring to media reports that said Nawaz was being issued a diplomatic passport on the instructions of newly elected PM Shahbaz. He specified that the instructions for the issuance of the diplomatic passport were given to the interior and foreign affairs secretaries.

He stated that convict Nawaz Sharif is a court absconder who was convicted by learned NAB Court for corruption and his appeal has been dismissed by this court and it is violative of law, a mockery of the justice system and disgrace to the nation if a diplomatic passport is issued to a convict.

He further said that the illegal, unlawful act of respondent no.1 (Secretary Interior) and respondent 2 (Deputy Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs) for issuance of the Diplomatic Passport to a convict and court absconder is not sustainable in the eye of law.

He added, “The issuance of a diplomatic passport to a convict is tantamount to bestowing respect, state protocols and dignity to a convict and if the convict is a court absconder it becomes a disgrace to the entire judicial system of the country.” The petitioner adopted that the act was also “against the spirit of the Constitution and against the fundamental rights whereby it has been guaranteed to every citizen that they will be treated equally and if the court absconders get such a lucrative travel document for life will be the mockery of the system.”

He maintained that the country’s courts had held that a fugitive would lose all rights a normal person was entitled to, adding that Article 25 of the Constitution had set clear standards against discrimination against citizens.

The petitioner argued, “And all the ordinary citizens will be discriminated if a convict is issued a diplomatic passport which has so many privileges and immunities, far more than the ordinary passport.” He further argued that the “illegal and unlawful” act of the interior and foreign affairs secretaries of issuing a diplomatic passport to a convict and court absconder “is not sustainable in the eyes of law.”

Advocate Panjutha contended, “The honorable superior courts have held in a number of cases that public servants are not duty-bound to implement or obey the illegal directions of the superiors and whoever acts illegal just to please a superior will solely be responsible for that illegal act.”

He highlighted that diplomatic passports were issued to the heads of states, highest officials and dignitaries, and that the holders of these passports enjoyed certain immunities and privileges outlined in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.

In this regard, he also cited Passport Rules 2021, which, he said, limit the issuance of diplomatic passports to a certain class of state officials so long as they held office. Moreover, he said, according to the rules, persons entitled to get the passport are to apply for the same with the relevant authority and furnish three copies of their photographs. He also pointed that “No authority other than the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will, in any circumstances, issue authorization for diplomatic passports.” He added that the process for the issuance of the passport had not been followed in Nawaz’s case. The process, he said, “cannot be exempted or bypassed and ignored merely on the ground that the applicant is a brother of the prime minister.”

The petitioner also mentioned that Nawaz had passed “derogatory remarks against the serving military and judicial officials” at public rallies, which caused disgrace, disrespect, injury and insult to the Pakistan Army and judiciary.

He continued that it is also pertinent to mention that action is yet to be taken by the law enforcement agencies for the remarks mentioned above. He highlighted that it was mandatory for all convicts to surrender before the law.

He said that Nawaz, on the other hand, had yet to surrender before the law, while the federal government is hurriedly trying to issue [a] diplomatic passport to him.

Therefore, he prayed to the court to stop the government from the issuance of a diplomatic passport to Nawaz, direct the Establishment Division secretary to arrest him immediately upon his arrival in Pakistan and produce him before a court.

He also requested the court that during the pendency of this petition, [a] diplomatic passport shall not be issued to Nawaz.

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