–Court grants bail to former PM after NAB says it doesn’t object to Nawaz’s bail plea on medical grounds
–IHC CJ tells NAB, govt court will not take responsibility in case anything happens to former premier
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday granted interim bail till Tuesday to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on medical grounds in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference after the latter’s brother, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif approached the high court for an urgent hearing owing to the deteriorating condition of his elder brother.
As the Lahore High Court (LHC) granted bail to the former PM on Friday, the IHC had postponed the matter till Tuesday. However, it took up the plea on Saturday after Shehbaz Sharif’s request for urgency in the matter.
A two-member bench, comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, granted bail to Nawaz — who is undergoing treatment at the Services Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS)– after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said it had no objection to the bail plea.
Subsequently, the court instructed that two surety bonds worth Rs2 million each be submitted to secure Nawaz’s release.
Following the ruling, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb thanked party supporters for praying for Nawaz’s health and urged them to continue to keep him in prayers.
“Nawaz’s platelet count has improved due to the treatment. I urge you to keep praying for him,” she said.
During the hearing, Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris regretted that Nawaz’s health had not been taken seriously for a long time.
“He was purposely taken away from jail to NAB. He was already in jail and could have been investigated there.”
He claimed that his “medical treatment was not done and his doctor was kept away”. The counsel demanded a probe into fears expressed by Nawaz’s children of him being “poisoned”.
Commenting on the merit of the plea, the IHC chief justice said the Punjab government shouldn’t have involved the court in this issue, as it already has the authority to decide such a matter.
Addressing the interior secretary, Chief Justice Minallah said: “You have half an hour to ask the NAB chairman whether he will oppose the judgment or submit an affidavit (declaring he has no objections).”
“If the government opposes the request for bail, then we will dismiss the plea for release on medical grounds,” said Justice Minallah, adding that the onus will be on NAB and the government in case something happened to Nawaz.
The chief justice put forth the question once more: “Does the government oppose the granting of bail [to Nawaz Sharif]?” “We are unable to comment on the matter at this time,” replied the interior secretary.
At this, Chief Justice Minallah said: “Do not put the entire responsibility (of the outcome of the verdict) on the court’s shoulders. If you are confident that nothing will happen to Nawaz Sharif till Tuesday, then take responsibility.”
While the additional attorney general said that the federal government “has no role in the matter”, the interior secretary remarked: “We cannot take any responsibility.”
The interior secretary further contended: “You should base your judgment on the merits of the case.”
“If you are unwilling to submit an affidavit, there must indeed be something wrong,” said Chief Justice Minallah. “This court will not take any responsibility,” he declared.
On Friday, Nawaz was granted bail in the ongoing Chaudhry Sugar Mills case by the Lahore High Court.
A two-member LHC bench, headed by Justice Baqar Najafi, granted Nawaz bail in the CSM case.