ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday granted bail to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on medical grounds in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case, providing some relief to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz camp.
The LHC division bench, headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, heard the bail plea filed by PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and directed to submit two surety bonds worth Rs10 million each.
Separately, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) sought the medical report of Nawaz till October 29 on the bail plea seeking suspension of his sentence in the Al-Azizia reference.
Meanwhile, the bench fixed Monday for hearing the bail petition of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz with directions to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to submit a reply in her main bail petition (filed in money laundering case).
Petitioner Maryam this time sought bail on humanitarian grounds - looking after her father as an attendant - claiming that his health was critical and deteriorating day by day.
Dr Mehmood Ayaz, the head of the medical board, read the medical report of Nawaz in the courtroom, making it clear that his health was critical owing to the dropping blood platelet count.
He contended the court that they could not diagnose the actual reason behind reduction in the platelets, submitting that travelling would be only possible if the platelets reached 50,000.
The doctor apprised the court that Nawaz's platelet count was constantly reducing, adding that the hospital had conducted tests to see whether Nawaz was suffering from dengue. "We injected platelets every day, but they were destroyed every day," said Dr Ayaz. "One thing or the other is destroying Nawaz's platelets."
He said that steroids would be injected in order to treat Nawaz.
"We have to conduct a bone marrow test but we cannot inject a needle in Nawaz's bone as he is a diabetes patient and suffering from several other ailments as well," he added.
Justice Najafi asked the NAB prosecutor "does NAB oppose it [bail plea]".
The NAB prosecutor contended that there was no need to go abroad if the medical treatment was available in Pakistan for Nawaz in jail or even at a hospital, but if the doctors proposed that his treatment was not possible here, permission could be granted in light of the Supreme Court's instructions.
Nawaz's counsel Advocate Khawaja Adnan implored the court that the medical board's report revealed that Nawaz's health was deteriorating. "Bail can also be granted to a convict of death penalty on critical health condition," he added.
Nawaz's lawyer Ashtar Ausaf contended that it would be violation of basic rights if a person was not granted bail on medical grounds despite the medical board's report.
Justice Najafi asked the Punjab advocate general whether the Punjab government permitted Maryam to look after her father, to which, the advocate general responded that Maryam had not submitted any application in this regard, adding that if she submitted an application to the concerned authority, the decision would be made in accordance with the law.
He apprised the court that medical treatment was being provided to Nawaz in accordance with international protocol. "Whether Nawaz is recovering or not, it will be clear after two or three days. Under the current circumstances, travelling will not be an appropriate step as the treatment is ongoing," said the AGP.
Justice Najafi inquired of Additional Attorney General Ishtiaq Khan whether or not the names of petitioners were on the Exit Control List (ECL).
The AAG replied their names were not on the ECL but he could get it confirmed.
As the bench assembled after a short while, Ishtiaq informed the court that their names were on the ECL.
Justice Najafi inquired of the NAB prosecutor whether a civil miscellaneous application was submitted, to which, the prosecutor replied that they had submitted it in this application but not in the main bail petition.
He further argued that it was tantamount to set a precedent if Maryam was granted bail on the grounds of looking after her father as an attendant. "If the bail is granted, everyone will come for bail on such grounds," he implored the court.
"What is the status of physical remand of Nawaz," asked Justice Najafi.
The NAB prosecutor apprised the court that Nawaz was on physical remand.
Nawaz's counsel Adnan replied that the physical remand had lapsed as Nawaz was not produced before the court.
The NAB prosecutor said the accountability court kept the matter pending as the LHC was hearing the bail plea, adding that the investigation officer (IO) had the application for seeking remand but had not submitted it before the court.
Nawaz's counsel Ausaf said does NAB want to take physical remand of a person who was not produced before the court owing to his critical health condition.
After hearing the detailed arguments, the division bench granted bail to Nawaz on medical grounds while the bail application of Maryam Nawaz was fixed for hearing on Monday with directions to NAB to submit a reply in her main bail petition.
"This is a court of law not a procession," remarked Justice Najafi as lawyers present in the courtroom started clapping after the bench granted bail to Nawaz. PML-N lawyer Azam Nazir Tarar had to tender apology over the conduct.
The bench first adjourned the proceedings at 12:30pm with directions to Dr Ayaz to produce the medical report.
As the bench assembled again, the proceedings were adjourned again at 3pm with directions to the AGP to confirm whether the Punjab government had allowed Maryam to look after her father, and with directions to AAG to confirm petitioners' names on the ECL. After that, the proceedings were adjourned for 10 minutes with directions to NAB for confirming status of Nawaz's physical remand.
In the courtroom, PML-N leaders Shehbaz Sharif, Khawaja Asif, Mushahid Hussain Syed, Naseer Bhutta and others were present.
PML-N supremo Nawaz's bail was filed on behalf of his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif, seeking his release in the Chaudhary Sugar Mills case for the purpose of his treatment by medical experts in Pakistan or abroad as per Nawaz's choice.
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