ISLAMABAD    -    The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday turned down a contempt of court petition against Prime Minis­ter Shehbaz Sharif and former pre­mier Nawaz Sharif regarding the lat­ter’s return to Pakistan.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Mi­nallah conducted hearing of the pe­tition moved by Zafar Ali Shah, Ad­vocate who invoked the jurisdiction of this court under Article 199 of the Constitution seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Shar­ifs. After hearing the arguments of the petitioner, the IHC bench “dis­missed in limine” the petition.

The petitioner stated in his peti­tion that Nawaz had gone abroad with the permission of the Lahore High Court (LHC) due to illness and his brother had submitted an affi­davit that the PML-N Quaid would return after his recovery but did not return.

He prayed to the court that Nawaz be labelled an “offender” and con­tempt of court proceedings may be initiated against both of them.

He further stated that Nawaz left the country while he was on bail from the IHC and had been permit­ted to go abroad by the federal cab­inet. Earlier, the IHC office raised an objection regarding maintainabil­ity of the petition. However, Justice Athar overruled the objection be­cause the office is bereft of jurisdic­tion to object or adjudicate upon the question of maintainability of a con­stitutional petition filed under Arti­cle 199 of the Constitution.

He added, “The maintainability of a petition can only be determined on the judicial side by the High Court. The petition, therefore, shall be treated as numbered and the office is directed to process the numbering of the petition accordingly.”

During the hearing, in response to the court’s query, the petitioner admitted that the petition where­in interim order, dated 16.11.2019 was passed is pending before the LHC. Zafar Ali also admitted that the name of Nawaz Sharif was removed from the Exit Control List pursuant to the decision of the Federal Cabi­net subject to certain conditions.

The IHC bench observed, “Admit­tedly, the removal of the name from ECL was not pursuant to an order or direction passed by any court. The conditions imposed by the Federal Cabinet were challenged before the LHC and they were suspended and modified vide an interim order, dat­ed 16.11.2019.”

“It appears that the said order was never challenged either by the Fed­eral Government nor the National Accountability Bureau and, there­fore, it stood implemented,” main­tained the court. It noted that since the petition wherein interim order, dated 16.11.2019 was passed, is pending before the learned Lahore High Court, therefore, this Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the peti­tion in hand nor to grant the prayers sought therein.

The petitioner after arguing the matter stated that he does not press the petition so that he may approach the competent forum.

Therefore, the IHC bench said in its order that for the above reasons, the petition in hand is not compe­tent and, therefore, accordingly dis­missed in limine.