ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday suspended sentence of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and granted him bail for eight weeks in the Al-Azizia case on medical grounds.

A division bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani conducted hearing of the bail plea filed by PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif for his elder brother.

The court noted in its verdict, “For the reasons to be recorded later the instant petition is allowed and the sentence of petitioner No 2 namely Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif handed down by the Accountability Court – II Islamabad in Reference No 19 of 2017 with respect to offence under Section 9(a)(v) read with Section 14(c) of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999, is suspended and he is admitted to bail for a period of eight (8) weeks from the date of his release subject to furnishing fresh bail bonds in the sum of Rs 2 million with two sureties each in the like amount to the satisfaction of Deputy Registrar (Judicial) of this court.”

“In case the indisposition of petitioner No 2 continues, he before the expiry period of eight (8) weeks, may approach the Government of Punjab under Section 401 (2) Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 and until the decision of the provincial government on the application, he shall continue to remain on bail,” said the IHC judgment.

It added, “However, if petitioner No 2 does not approach the provincial government within the period mentioned hereinabove this order shall cease to have effect on lapse of period of eight (8) weeks and the bail granted shall stand revoked/cancelled.”

The verdict was reserved for a short period before it was announced later.

Before the verdict was reserved, Justice Aamer asked Nawaz’s counsel, Khawaja Haris Advocate whether the president could grant amnesty to Nawaz before the bail plea is announced.

To this, Haris said that he could invoke his presidential powers at any time. However, customarily, all forums are first approached.

During the hearing, the court observed that NAB seemed to be the only party with a clear stance on the matter and that the federal and provincial governments were refraining from taking up a position.

Justice Farooq asked from Sharif’s counsel, “On which condition should the court grant you bail?” At this, Haris replied that on whichever condition that could give Nawaz Sharif a chance to recover. The court then presented Nawaz’s counsel with four options including forwarding of the matter to the executive, suspension of the sentence in accordance with timeframe recommended by the NAB, approving the petitioner’s application and rejecting the application.

In response, Haris opposed to send the matter to a government which he said was “utterly against the Sharifs”.

At this, Justice Kayani said the prime minister and chief minister did not belong to a party. They belonged to the entire country and province. Then, Haris pointed out that the attorney general had even objected to the interim bail granted to Nawaz. He prayed to the court to kindly decide the matter in accordance with law.

Justice Kayani remarked that if the government decided on the matter then it would not be termed a deal.

Sharif’s counsel reiterated the request for the court to decide the matter and said that they would respect the decision. Subsequently, the court reserved the verdict which was announced later.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had moved the petition through his counsel Khawaja Haris Advocate and cited the state through chairman National Accountability Bureau, Director General NAB Lahore, Superintendent Jail Kot Lakhpat Lahore and Medical Superintendent Services Institute of Medical Services Lahore as respondents.

He adopted in the petition that Nawaz Sharif had been hospitalised pursuant to his blood platelets having gone down to 16,000 while in NAB custody and the same having gone further down to 2,000 per microliter. This is an alarming situation as it poses a serious threat to his life.

Petition said, “Till this date, the doctors at Services Hospital have not been able to even diagnose cause of the acute fall in Nawaz’s platelet count.”

Therefore, Shehbaz Sharif prayed to the court, the court might suspend the sentence awarded to Nawaz Sharif vide judgment dated 24-12-2018 passed by the judge Accountability Court No II Islamabad and release Nawaz on bail pending final decision of his appeal against his conviction and sentence.

He further requested the court that Sharif might be allowed to be treated by medical expert/ doctor in Pakistan or abroad as per his choice.

APP adds: Earlier, during the course of proceedings, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar appeared before the bench and pleaded that former prime minister trusted the medical facilities being provided to him.

He said the ex-prime minister was under treatment in hospital where he was being fully looked after by the medical team. The chief minister also submitted a health report of Nawaz Sharif to the bench on the occasion.

He pleaded that he had made eight visits of jails last year and provided relief to around 4,000 prisoners and also paid fines for at least 600. He further said the government would introduce reforms to uplift prisons system.

Nawaz Sharif’s personal doctor Dr Adnan Khan told the court that blood platelets of a normal person’s were more than 100,000 but former prime minister’s platelets were at a very low level.

He said the former prime minister was fighting for his life because when doctors gave him prescriptions for low platelets, he got a heart attack. “If doctors try to cure one disease another one comes up,” he told the bench.

 

Medical Superintendent Services Hospital Dr Saleem said, “The former premier’s condition is still in danger as he is suffering from multiple diseases.

Nawaz’s lawyer Khawaja Haris said it was necessary that all medical treatment to former prime minister should be given under a single roof.

He said in accordance of medical report, his heart was not fully pumping blood in his body.

He said Nawaz Sharif did not have any objection against the doctor’s intentions but the medical board itself was not satisfied with the results of current treatment.

The lawyer said Nawaz Sharif should be allowed to get treatment from doctors of his choice, adding he could continue serving his sentence once his health condition was improved.

Meanwhile, NAB Additional Prosecutor General Jahnzaib Bharwana requested the court to suspend sentence of former prime minister under a timeframe like the Supreme Court did and also review his health report.

Justice Kiyani remarked apart from NAB neither the Punjab nor the federal government’s position was clear on the issue. The court reserved its judgment and later suspended Nawaz’s sentence for eight weeks.

The court also adjourned hearing till November 25, on Nawaz Sharif’s main appeal in Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference.

Justice Aamer Farooq observed, “Supposed, if trial court’s judgment in Al-Azizia Steel Mills case was turned down due to judge video scandal then the verdict in Flagship corruption reference would also be dismissed.”

The court also directed NAB to submit written replies against the miscellaneous applications of petitioner.