IHC seeks legal clarity before declaring Nawaz absconder in Al-Azizia case

Tells Nawaz's counsel, appeal can't be heard before former being declared an absconder

Our Correspondent September 10, 2020
Former premier Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: EXPRESS


The Islamabad High Court (IHC) decided on Thursday to seek help on legal points before declaring former prime minister Nawaz Sharif an absconder in Al-Azizia reference.

A two-judge IHC bench headed by Justice Amir Farooq heard the appeal against Nawaz’s sentence in the Al-Azizia reference. The court will reconvene on September 15 to hear arguments on whether Nawaz Sharif could be given relief without surrendering.

The court stated that former premier did not surrender and that he was not being given an exemption, only his counsel Khawaja Harris was being granted some time to prepare arguments on legal points.

While requesting the court to grant him time, Harris told the court that if someone could not assist him on legal issues he would withdraw the request for reviewing the request for surrender.

During the proceedings, the National Accountability Bureau Prosecutor Jahanzeb Bharwana said that Nawaz Sharif did not comply with the court's previous order of surrender and he should not get any relief after being declared a proclaimed offender in the Toshakhana (gift depository) reference.

Justice Farooq inquired about the affect an application would have if the person concerned has been declared an absconder in another case.

“In Pervez Musharraf's case, the court declared that an absconder cannot be heard before his surrender,” the judge stated. “Even the Supreme Court has rendered an absconder ineligible for relief in in the Naseem-ur-Rehman case,” he further maintained.

To this, Nawaz's lawyer replied that they had applied for the appointment of a representative at the last hearing.

“If a representative has to be appointed then why shouldn't you be the person appointed,” the judge replied. “We are furthering the legal proceedings to declare Nawaz Sharif an absconder,” he said.

During the hearing, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani asked Sharif's counsel to state, to the best of his knowledge, whether Nawaz Sharif was admitted in an hospital. Counsel Harris replied that the former premier was not being treated at any hospital.

“Nawaz Sharif is in the UK, and his doctor is in the United States. Is he being treated verbally?” the court asked. It's a different matter if someone is admitted in the hospital, stated the court.

Counsel Harris prayed before the court to hear his appeal. However, Justice Kayani said the court would only hear the appeal after declaring Nawaz an absconder.

Presenting the arguments on behalf of the federal government, Additional Attorney General Tariq Khokhar said that Nawaz Sharif's medical reports were incomplete, and the Punjab government had rejected his bail.

The court inquired whether the government tried to find out about Nawaz’s health after November. The AAG replied that the government did not, because Nawaz was not admitted in an hospital.

Counsel Harris said that it was clearly written in the undertaking that Nawaz’s health will be reviewed through a representative of the high commission. Justice Farooq inquired whether the federal government made any efforts in this regard.

Calling for arguments on legal points to be filed, the court adjourned the hearing till September 15.


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