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Nawaz Sharif granted bail on medical grounds

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has granted erstwhile prime minister Nawaz Sharif bail for six weeks on medical grounds, ARY News reported on Tuesday.

Headed by the chief justice, a three-judge of the SC took up the petition of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader challenging the Islamabad High Court’s verdict dismissing his bail application on medical grounds.

Announcing the short verdict, the CJP directed the former premier be granted bail for six weeks against surety bonds amounting to Rs 5 million each.

The court, however, ordered that Nawaz will not be allowed to leave the country.

The court further said that Nawaz’s bail can be extended. If needed, the high court can be approached for an extension in the bail term, the court stated.

The bench had earlier reserved the verdict after hearing arguments of Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor.

“Nawaz Sharif has been suffering from these diseases for the past 17 years. Nevertheless, he has lived an active life,” CJP Khosa remarked, while hearing the petition.

He said Sharif will be entitled to bail on medical grounds given that his health condition is serious.

In response to a notice, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had earlier on March 25 submitted a reply in the apex court opposing the bail petition.

The bureau said that Sharif’s bail plea didn’t mention any life-threatening disease. The former prime minister’s life was not threatened and no medical board had recommended surgery for him, nor did this case fall under the “hardship” category.

Nawaz Sharif was being given all facilities in Pakistan, it said and added he only wanted to make out the case citing threats to life so that he can go abroad.

Security Measures

Strict security measures were taken to avoid any untoward incident during today’s hearing, according to a press statement issued by the top court.

Owing to the limited capacity of Court Room No 1, where the hearing took place, the Superintendent of Police (Security) of the SC issued security passes to regulate the entry of the people.

Only petitioners and respondents whose cases were fixed in the top court were allowed to enter the SC building.

In the previous hearing, Khawaja Haris had submitted medical reports of his client, stating boards of medical experts had recommended transferring him to a hospital equipped with all essential facilities.

He said five different medical boards were constituted to assess the PML-N supremo’s health, which were unanimous in their prognosis that he was suffering from health problems.

Haris said it was the basic right of an inmate to get treatment to his satisfaction.

Justice Khosa said the bench will have to go through the former premier’s medical reports.

“We have to see whether the ailment [Sharif was suffering from] has deteriorated [with the passage of time],” he said.

Justice Khosa observed that the former premier spent a busy life despite these diseases in the past. “He ran election campaign and faced trial along with addressing public gatherings.”

Case Background

A bench of the IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin AKhtar Kayani on February 25 dismissed Sharif’s petition seeking bail and suspension of his seven-year imprisonment on medical grounds.

“Nawaz Sharif is not suffering from any disease which cannot be treated in Pakistan,” the bench had observed.

The PML-N supreme leader was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined Rs1.5 billion and $25 million in the Al-Azizia corruption reference by an accountability court on December 24, 2018.

Earlier, on March 1, Sharif filed a petition in the Supreme Court pleading with it to set aside the judgment of the IHC that rejected his bail plea in Al-Azizia corruption reference.

The PML-N supremo named the federation, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the accountability court judge and the superintendent jail as parties in his petition.

He submitted that the order passed by the IHC division bench is in utter derogation of the principles governing grant of bail/suspension of sentence laid down by the apex court in the judgements cited before the division bench.

Sharif’s lawyer said the division bench committed a jurisdictional error in misreading the record and thereby basing its judgement on an erroneous assumption that he was receiving best possible medical treatment in hospital.

However, the fact is that as per the medical reports submitted in the case, his treatment had not yet been started, rather these reports can only pertain to the diagnosis showing that he is suffering from various ailments, he added.

The counsel said the ailments his client is suffering from constitutes a risk of stroke, an alarming degree of threat of irreversible damage to his heart, potential threat to further deterioration of his 3rd stage chronic kidney disease, and aggravation of his T2 Diabetes Millitus and Hypertension.

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