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Friday May 03 2019

SC rejects Nawaz Sharif’s petition for bail extension

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. File photo.

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday rejected a petition by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for an extension in the bail granted to him on medical grounds in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa also rejected the premier's plea to allow him to travel abroad for treatment.

Nawaz had been granted bail on medical grounds by the apex court on March 26 for six weeks. On April 25, he had submitted a review petition in the Supreme Court seeking a permanent bail. 

His bail is set to expire on May 7.

As the hearing went under way, Chief Justice Khosa remarked that the bench "will not talk about anything concerning the future". 

"Doctors can comment better on his illness," the top judge observed, adding, "This was part of the package that you can request for a bail extension after six weeks."

"We will have to see whether we review our order or not," he added. 

"Is a cancellation in the bail [such a] rare thing," the chief justice remarked to Nawaz's counsel Khawaja Haris.

"The courts are ridiculed every time and given a political angle," the judge continued. 

Khawaja Haris told the bench that his client was suffering from kidney-related ailment as well as depression, and asked the court to extend the bail for eight more weeks.

"Doctors are treating Nawaz and monitoring him on a daily basis," the counsel said.

"One point [in the petition] states that Nawaz is not getting better. Another states that he wishes to undergo treatment abroad," the chief justice observed.

To this, Khawaja Haris replied that the medical reports from Sharif Medical City Hospital recommended that his client be treated abroad. 

"We have good doctors and machines available here [in the country]. How can we know that his treatment is not possible here?" Chief Justice Khosa questioned. 

"The medical board had said an angiography was crucial, that's why we had granted him bail," the judge remarked.

Nawaz, thrice the prime minister of Pakistan, had been in jail since December 2018 following his conviction in Al Azizia corruption reference in line with the Supreme Court’s July 2017 verdict. An accountability court on December 24 had found the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader guilty in the Al Azizia Steel Mills reference and sentenced him to seven years in prison.