Nawaz Sharif granted interim bail in Al-Azizia reference on medical grounds

IHC held hearing after Shehbaz Sharif approached the court for early hearing

Web Desk

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday approved the interim bail of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on medical grounds until Tuesday in the Al-Azizia reference.

The petition was heard by a two-member divisional bench that included IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani. 

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had approached the court for an early hearing regarding the disposition of the former premier’s sentence today.

In today's hearing, the court accepted the bail plea until Tuesday against two bail bonds worth Rs2 million, asking the federal and Punjab government to send a concrete answer related to the plea.

During the hearing, Additional Prosecutor General of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said that the authority has no objection to the bail of Nawaz Sharif on medical grounds.

Following the decision, the PML-N submitted the bail bonds in the case.

PML-N's Marriyum Aurangzeb thanked people for praying for Nawaz Sharif. Meanwhile, a large number of PML-N workers gathered outside the Services Hospital in Lahore and celebrated the decision announced by the IHC.

Federal govt didn’t know about the case: AGP

Following the High Court’s decision, Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor said that the federal government was unaware about the case, expressing dissatisfaction over the way the case was handled.

The AGP further said that neither the federation received a notice regarding the case nor was it a party in the matter.

Anwar said the NAB told that the former prime minister is under the custody of the Punjab government. 

The AGP said that if summoned by the court, the federal government's representative will appear before it.

'Yes or no answer'

During the hearing, the IHC chief justice said that if the government opposes the bail plea then the court will dismiss the petition for Nawaz’s bail. 

“During this time period, if anything happens to Nawaz Sharif then the government and the NAB will be responsible,” remarked the court’s top judge.

He further said that ministers have been trying to place the entire matter on the court’s jurisdiction, which is why ‘a yes or no’ answer is needed.

Following which, the AAG NAB responded that the federal government has nothing to do with this entire matter and they ‘cannot take any responsibility’.

The court then ordered the AAG to take clear directions from Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar.

'Provincial govt empowered to dispose sentence'

While hearing the case earlier, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked that the bench was set to hear the case on Tuesday. He added that the provincial government is empowered to dispose off a prisoner’s sentence, therefore the issue should have never come before the court.

Also read: LHC grants bail to Nawaz Sharif in Chaudhry Sugar Mills case

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani asked why was there an urgency in holding an early hearing into the case. To this, the lawyer of the petitioner informed the court that the former premier had suffered a minor heart attack, and his health had further deteriorated after Friday. 

After a brief initial hearing, the court had issued notices to the Punjab chief minister, NAB chairman and other parties in the case. The court also stated that the parties should appoint a representative and directed them to appear before the court later in the day.

Shehbaz's plea for Nawaz Sharif's bail

The court began its hearing on PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif's plea for the bail of the former prime minister.

The former Punjab chief minister had also attached the 11-member board’s special medical board’s report in his petition. In his plea, PML-N President Shehbaz had stated that the hearing should be held today due to the former premier’s deteriorating health condition.

Also read: Nawaz Sharif shifted to hospital with low platelet count

In view of the former prime minister’s health condition the IHC has decided to hear the petition today.

It is pertinent to mention that the Lahore High Court on Friday had approved the bail of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case. The bail was approved on medical grounds. 

Al-Azizia reference

On December 24, 2018, an accountability court had sentenced Nawaz to seven years in prison in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference and acquitted him in the Flagship reference.

In a short verdict announced, the court said there was concrete evidence against the former premier in the Al-Azizia reference and that he was unable to provide a money trail in the case.

The court ordered that Nawaz be "sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a term of seven years along with a fine of Rs1.5 billion and US$25 million".