ISLAMABAD/LAHORE    -   The Islamabad High Court on Monday tuned down former premier Nawaz Sharif’s petition seeking bail and suspension of his sentence in Al-Azizia reference on medical grounds.

A division bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani announced the verdict which it had earlier reserved after hearing arguments of both the sides in Nawaz Sharif’s petition moved through his counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed.

In its 9-page verdict, the IHC dual bench also mentioned various verdicts of Supreme Court including PPP leader Sharjeel Memon, Mian Nazir Akhtar, Arshad and others where the apex court had refused to grant bail on medical grounds.

The bench stated in its judgment that as noted above, the petitioner had a history of various cardiac complications and was a chronic kidney patient and had high blood pressure and diabetes. According to the counsel for the petitioner, initially when writ petition No.32-2019 was filed, medical condition of the petitioner was not too serious and on 15th January, when his medical condition deteriorated, only then, present writ petition was filed. “All medical reports of the petitioner confirm that he has above normal history and is also recommended for medical treatment. In such cases, medical reports and opinion of doctors is of utmost importance and none of reports suggest that continued incarceration of the petitioner, in any way, would be detrimental to his life,” read the verdict.

The bench mentioned that in case reported as PLD 2005 SC 364 supra, the apex court held that where a prisoner was receiving medical treatment in hospital or in jail, he will not be entitled to the concession of bail; the petitioner has been hospitalised time and again since January 2019, whenever he made complaints about his indisposition. In fact the reports of board of doctors and various teams constituted, are indicative of the fact that petitioner was receiving best possible medical treatment available to any individual in Pakistan. “The referred fact cannot be regarded as an ‘extraordinary situation’ and/or case of ‘extreme hardship’. Almost, every ailment has potential of being detrimental to one’s life but not, if the same is properly treated and taken care of, therefore, being indisposed per se cannot form basis to be released on bail,” added the bench.

After mentioning Rule 143 of Pakistan Prison Rules 1978, the bench maintained, “The bare perusal of above rules shows that superintendant jail has the authority to release a prisoner suffering from serious illness. The parameters prescribed in the referred rules are not attracted in the facts and circumstances of present case.”

It continued, “Under Rule 197, where it is necessary to remove a convicted prisoner or an under trial prisoner to hospital outside the prison for operative or other special treatment, the same is permissible under certain conditions. In the instant case, the law was duly followed and as mentioned hereinabove, the petitioner was taken to the hospital as and when, he complained about his health.”

The verdict said, “Finally, we find that objection taken by learned counsel for the respondents regarding maintainability of the instant petition, is of no substance. The medical condition of the petitioner deteriorated on or about 15th January and it is only there-after that instant writ petition was filed. The case law cited by learned counsel for National Accountability Bureau is not attracted in the facts and circumstances of instant case.”

Therefore, the court declared, “For the above reasons, we find the instant petition to be without merit and the same is accordingly dismissed.”

Former defence minister Kh Asif said they would take all available legal routes against the decision being their right. “We will also file an appeal. We are hopeful that justice will be served,” hoped the former minister.

In his bail petition, the former prime minister had sought suspension of seven-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.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was sent back to Kot Lakhpat Jail following cancellation of his bail plea by IHC.

Nawaz Sharif who had detailed discussion with his daughter Maryam Nawaz at the VIP room of the Jinnah Hospital after the verdict, preferred to go back to prison upon which he was shifted to Kot Lakhpat Jail from Jinnah Hospital.

Earlier, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif visited his brother Nawaz Sharif at Jinnah Hospital and they heard the IHC verdict together. After dismissal of bail plea, both discussed the situation. Talking to media, Shehbaz said his party will meet soon to work out strategy on IHC verdict. After detailed decision, the PML-N will exploit every course available under the law, he added.