Nawaz withdraws plea against his warrant

IHC disposes of ex-premier’s petition challenging Toshakhana proceedings


Saqib Bashir August 20, 2020
Former three-time premier Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday withdrew his petition from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) challenging an accountability court’s proceedings against him in the Toshakhana (gift repository) reference.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Amir Farooq approved the PML-N supreme leader’s request to withdraw his plea.

Nawaz had filed the plea against the accountability court’s decision to issue a non-bailable arrest warrant against him and declare him a proclaimed offender. The IHC was asked to declare the accountability court’s summons to the former premier null and void.

However, Barrister Jahangir Jadoon, Nawaz’s lawyer, informed the court that his client had decided to withdraw the petition.

The court accepted the request and disposed of the petition.

During the previous hearing, the IHC had sought details of the current status of Nawaz's eight-week bail in the Al-Aziza reference.

Responding to the court's inquiry, Jadoon said the bail was “still in effect," adding that an application in this connection had been submitted to the Punjab government.

However, the court sought a clarification on Nawaz's bail status, noting that the court had told the Punjab government to look into the matter of bail extension.

It also observed that the bail it had granted to the former premier had become ineffective, and he was apparently an absconder now.

The bench issued an order-sheet which read the petitioner could not satisfy the court regarding maintainability of the petition.

It noted that the court had neither ordered to remove the name of convicted former prime minister from the Exit Control List, nor had it allowed the PML-N leader to leave the country for medical treatment.

“The sentence was suspended for a specified period based on the report of a medical board constituted by the government of Punjab. The latter could have extended the suspension of sentence if satisfied that the medical condition of the petitioner warranted so,” the order read..

The bench observed that the federal government or the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had neither informed the court about the fate of the suspended sentence nor that the name of the petitioner was being removed from the ECL.

The petitioner also did not inform the court nor had he sought permission before leaving the country.

The order read that in case the suspended sentence was not extended by the government of Punjab, then the petitioner was required to surrender to the court or to challenge the executive order before a competent court vested with territorial jurisdiction.

“The jurisdiction of this court vested under Article 199 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 is extraordinary and equitable, therefore, in order to claim relief the petitioner has to satisfy us that he has invoked the constitutional jurisdiction with clean hands.

The bench, however, accepted counsels’ request to adjourn hearing till August 20 so that they may seek instructions regarding status of suspension of sentence and argue the maintainability of the petition

During the hearing, Justice Minallah noted that two appeals filed by Nawaz were pending in the court.

In October last year, the IHC granted four-week interim bail to Nawaz in view of his deteriorating health condition, particularly a continuous drop in his blood platelet count. The PML-N supreme leader later flew to London in November 2019 for medical treatment. He has not returned to the country since.

On August 15, Nawaz had challenged the accountability court's proceedings against him in the Toshakhana reference, marinating that NAB was unjustifiably targeting him and his family.

The petition added that NAB wanted to target the opposition and silence their voices. It further said the PML-N chief was not an absconder as he had gone abroad on bail to seek medical treatment and should be permitted to face trial through his representative.

The European Union and the Human Rights Watch had also termed NAB's proceedings illegal, the petition stated.

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