Islamabad: The Supreme Court (SC) remarked on Tuesday that former premier Nawaz Sharif could not go abroad despite acceptance of the bail petition.
An apex court three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and comprising Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Yahya Afridi, was hearing the former prime minister’s appeal against the Islamabad High Court (IHC) verdict dismissing his bail plea in the Al-Azizia corruption reference.
The CJ remarked that the court would need to read all the medical reports of Nawaz Sharif. Five of the medical reports of the convict were presented before the SC bench. He remarked that the reports from London about convict’s treatment abroad and health condition were not provided to doctors in Pakistan, and the court would examine the medical reports of tests, conducted at PIMS in Islamabad. The bench was informed that Nawaz Sharif had undergone two open heart surgeries and he had been implanted seven stents so far.
The court issued notices to National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Judge Accountability Court-II and Superintendent Kot Lakhpat Jail for March 26 with the direction that if any of the respondents wanted to file any document, it should be submitted before the next date of hearing as no adjournment would be granted and the verdict would be announced on March 26. Nawaz was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined Rs1.5 billion and US$25 million in the Al-Azizia corruption reference, in a verdict by an accountability court on December 24, 2018. Since his conviction, the former prime minister is imprisoned at the Kot Lakhpat Jail Lahore. Khawaja Haris, counsel for Nawaz Sharif, provided the bench with details of all the six medical reports, furnished by different medical boards, constituted for examining the health conditions of former premier. He submitted that earlier he had also submitted the findings of medical boards before the IHC. The chief justice, while citing Sharif’s medical reports, observed that the former premier is suffering from a kidney stone, hepatitis, diabetes, heart problems and high blood pressure. Kh Haris contended that five medical boards were constituted for examining the health condition of the former prime minister. The first one, he said comprised doctors from Punjab Institute of Cardiology which furnished its report on Jan 16, 2019, adding the said team also gave another report on Jan 17, 2019. Similarly, he said the second board consisted of doctors from the Jinnah Hospital of Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore while the third medical board, which consisted of cardiologists, presented its report on Jan 30, 2019, the fourth report was furnished by Services Hospital on Feb 5, while the fifth report was again furnished by the doctors of Jinnah Hospital and finally the seven-member doctors examined the convicted premier and gave its final report on Feb 18, 2019.
Haris submitted that the former premier is suffering from chest pains, cardiac problems and hypertension. He submitted that his health condition has worsened while the blood supply is not sufficient and continuously decreasing.The CJ observed that the petitioner had been receiving medical treatment from abroad, adding that the court wanted to ascertain if his health condition had worsened in jail. Kh Haris told the court that Dr Lawrence based in London had been treating the former premier. “After going through all the medical reports now, the stage comes for the treatment and under the law everyone could be referred to any hospital for the required treatment,” the CJ said adding the petitioner has cardiac ailment, which could not be treated in prison. The CJ said that the angiography could not be conducted in jail. Kh Haris contended that the entire record in a nutshell was given by Dr Lawrence as well as Echography opinion itself is a procedure that has to be performed at the earliest; otherwise, there could be serious consequences. “So far he has been receiving treatment from abroad; he would like to be treated abroad,” Justice Khosa inquired while adding the court would examine the medical reports of tests conducted at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad.
The chief justice inquired as to whether the petitioner faced these medical issues like kidney stone, diabetes etc., earlier, adding that if the petitioner’s condition has deteriorated before this time then the situation would be different. The CJ asked the counsel if there is any precedent where a convict travelled abroad after getting bail, adding mostly people going abroad never come back. Khawaja Haris, however, said his client had come back after visiting his ailing spouse. Is he on Exit Control List (ECL), the CJP further asked to which the counsel replied in affirmative, adding the government did offer for naming the doctor as well as the name of hospital where the petitioner could be provided medical treatment.
Justice Yahya Afridi, another member of the bench, asked the counsel as to whether he had ever been refused to consult any doctor of his choice. “Have you ever been refused a doctor or hospital of your choice and let us know how can we help you in this regard,” Justice Yahya asked. Khwaja Haris said they do not have any idea of the doctor or a hospital to be consulted in Pakistan as his client had always been treated abroad.
Meanwhile, the court issued notices to respondents including National Accountability Bureau and others for March 26 and adjourned further hearing. During the course of proceedings, PML-N stalwarts including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former minister for water and power, Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal and others were present in the courtroom No 1.