Nawaz to return to jail

SC rejects ex-PM’s appeal for bail extension CJP says there is no imminent threat to his life Angiography requires an hour (or so), but court granted ex-PM six weeks for treatment which were spent in just conducting more tests”

ISLAMABAD   -   The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a review petition of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif seeking review of its earlier order and suspension of sentence indefinitely, along with the permission to fly to UK for medical treatment.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khan Khosa termed the March 26 order a complete package for the convicted person and observed that this court granted 6-week bail to Sharif being under impression that his life was in danger because the reports had emphasized on immediate angiography.

The chief justice observed that Nawaz Sharif’s bail was admitted for medical treatment but all the days were used in mere evaluation of his health condition, though he was already medically examined by five medical boards and 31 doctors.

Heading a three-judge bench, which took up review petition for hearing, Chief Justice Khosa observed that the manner of the petitioner shows that there is no imminent threat to his life and his plea is based more on apprehensions [than substance]. He added that angiography requires an hour [or so] but this court granted the ex-PM six weeks for treatment.

Nawaz Sharif’s bail is expiring on May 7 after which he, under the top court’s order, shall surrender to custody voluntarily - failing which he shall be retaken into custody. The top court upheld its earlier order wherein it had also ruled that surrender to custody by Sharif shall not include surrendering before a court with an application for bail.

During the hearing, the chief justice observed that this court is not concerned which court Sharif should approach after completion of bail. He told Khwaja Haris, counsel appearing on behalf of Sharif, that his client has many remedies to avail.

To make the ground for Sharif’s treatment in UK, the counsel submitted letters of three UK based doctors.

The chief justice while reading the letters pointed out the contents and noted that they are offering their services and facility in UK but nowhere anything about medical condition of his client was mentioned.

Advocate Haris contended that the doctors are not alien to Sharif and had been treating him in the past. The chief justice asked if those letters, without any backup, were enough.

The counsel instead read the medical reports, which were prepared after examining Sharif during the bail period. He argued that these reports prepared by doctors of different hospitals of Pakistan  recommend that Sharif needs advance treatment and there was no facility of such advance treatment available in the country.

He contended that the blockage in Sharif's carotid artery had increased by 50 percent which is an alarming sign, adding that a cardiac MRI is used across the world as an alternative for angiography but the process is not available in the country.

However, the chief justice in negation remarked that the doctors quoted in court had not said anything in this regard. He questioned how this court shall know that certain facility for advance treatment is not available in the country. The counsel responded that court can ascertain this independently. However, Justice Khosa observed that the country has best facilities and doctors.

Regarding the jurisdiction, the chief justice made it clear that the apex court cannot review its order on the basis of subsequent developments after the decision of granting bail. He added that it will become a precedent if that route is taken and review will become unending process.

During the course of hearing, Justice Khosa referred to a case of 2005 wherein the top court had granted bail to a person for undergoing an operation but the bail was cancelled after he did not undergo the operation.

He questioned if there is any precedent that a convict is allowed to go abroad. He observed that the instant case is first one of this nature. He again questioned why the whole 6 weeks bail period was used in conducting medical tests instead of treatment.

The chief justice further remarked that under the rules jail superintendent is empowered to send a prisoner to hospital as and when required. He said it is possible for Sharif to be treated in prison. Regarding stress level, the chief justice said that it is natural for a prisoner to suffer stress in jail.

Justice Yahya Afridi remarked that the matters should be dealt in accordance with the law and that the relief should not be granted on the opinion of individual doctors.

During the hearing, Chief Justice Khosa also defended bails and observed that it is a common practice as hundreds of convicts are granted bail on medical grounds. Even death sentences have been suspended over medical concerns, so it is surprising to see the courts being maligned in this instance.

On April 27, deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif had requested the top court to grant him permanent bail on the grounds of his fresh medical report stating that he continues to suffer from acute anxiety and depression that may lead to ‘sudden death’.

Nawaz Sharif was convicted by the Islamabad Accountability Court, which awarded him seven years rigorous imprisonment along with fine of Rs1.5 billion and $25 million. Furthermore, all assets, properties, rights, receivables and interests of and in Hill Metal Establishment stood forfeited to the federal government.

On March 26, a bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had suspended Sharif’s sentence for 6 weeks on medical grounds and ruled that he shall not leave the country nor shall he be allowed to leave the country during his bail period.


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