ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has rejected former prime minister Nawaz Sharif plea to suspend his sentence in Al-Azizia case verdict on medical ground, noting that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader’s medical report does not show that his life is in danger.
The IHC two-judge bench – comprising Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani – on Monday read out the 9-page detailed verdict that was reserved on February 20.
The verdict said in Nawaz Sharif’s case unusual circumstances could not be proved and in the light of the Supreme Court’s recent verdicts, the court could not grant him release on bail. Nawaz Sharif has medical treatment facilities available to him. He does not qualify to be released on medical grounds, it said.
“The petitioner has a history of various cardiac complications and is a chronic kidney patient and has high blood pressure and diabetes. All the medical reports of the petitioner confirm that he has the above history and is also recommended for medical treatment.”
“None of the reports suggest that continued incarceration of the petitioner, in any way, would be detrimental to his life. 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 is 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’.”
Referring to Sindh former minister Sharjeel Memon’s and other cases in its verdict, the court said a superintendent jail can send any accused to a hospital for treatment if he thinks it necessary. In Nawaz Sharif’s case as well he has been sent to hospital whenever needed, it added.
The court also made the arguments of Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris as well as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) team a part of the verdict.
On December 24, 2018, an accountability court convicted the former premier in Al-Azizia reference and sentenced him to seven-year rigourous imprisonment while also imposing on him a hefty fine.
When the court announced the verdict a large number of PML-N leaders, workers and supporter were present in an outside the court premises. The large number of police personnel was also present to tackle any possible law and order situation.
In the wake of the verdict, Nawaz Sharif was shifted back from Jinnah Hospital to Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail amid heightened security. Nawaz’s daughter Maryam moved to tears at the time of her father’s departure and the PML-N workers present at the hospital shouted loud slogans.
Nawaz Sharif stayed in the hospital for 11 days. During this time, a special medical board conducted his different tests and recommending angiography. It sent its report to the Interior Ministry but the ministry left the matter of his treatment to discretion of the medical board.
On Sunday, the medical board met Nawaz and advised to get angiography done but former PM insisted on returning to jail upon which the medical board briefed the Interior Ministry of his decision.
After approval from the Interior Ministry, the jail staff reached the hospital. The doctors conducted Nawaz’s routine checkup after which he was discharged.
Earlier on, Maryam and Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif met Nawaz and inquired after his health. They also discussed the court’s verdict and future course of action.
In an unofficial conversation with the media, Shehbaz said legal consultation was under way on the verdict. “We have always respected courts and have never been scared in the past nor will be scared in the future,” he said.
Earlier, Nawaz’s personal doctor also met him in the hospital. He said the former premier’s disease was diagnosed on January 22, adding that he has a heart ailment which has not been treated as yet.
Commenting on the verdict, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the IHC’s decision to reject Nawaz Sharif’ bail plea is based on legal grounds.
“If the prisoners were allowed to go abroad on medical grounds, it would set a precedent and half the inmates would have to be released,” he said while talking to media after attending a conference.
He said Nawaz Sharif thrice remained prime minister but he could not build a single hospital where he could be given medical treatment and still he wanted to be elected prime minister once again. The minister said the NAB prosecutor contested the case well and the court rejected the bail plea on merit.
“All NAB cases in the courts were filed during the previous government and the PTI [Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf] has nothing to do with them. All the management of NAB was appointed during the PML-N government and the PTI regime did not recruit a single person in the accountability watchdog,” he said.
He said in the previous regime, the State Bank governor, the National Bank president and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) chairman were apparently partners of the PML leadership in alleged money laundering.
“If there is any amendment in the NAB law, then it will be to further strengthen the NAB, not to give relief to the looters and plunderers of the national wealth,” he said adding that accountability process was being carried out across the board and no discrimination was being done with the opposition.
Read the full judgment here: