IHC asks if Nawaz Sharif’s petition can be heard after NAB court declares him proclaimed offender

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. — Geo.tv/Files

The Islamabad High Court on Thursday asked whether the court can hear Nawaz Sharif’s petition after an accountability court declared him a proclaimed offender.

It ordered the legal representatives of the former premier to help the court in the next hearing on the question of whether a review petition filed by the PML-N supremo against his surrender could still be entertained.

Yesterday, the former premier, along with former president Asif Ali Zardari had been indicted in the Toshakhana reference.

Meanwhile, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) asked the court to direct the interior and foreign secretaries to proceed against Nawaz as per the law. The bureau also submitted a copy of the accountability court order declaring the former prime minister a proclaimed offender.

“Nawaz Sharif’s bail should be canceled and his arrest should be allowed,” the NAB counsel argued in court, recalling that the IHC had only suspended the former prime minister’s sentence in the Avenfield reference.

“In the last hearing, the matter was only related to the term of the bail [granted to Nawaz]. Now, he has been declared a proclaimed offender by a court,” observed Justice Aamer Farooq.

“Can we hear Nawaz Sharif’s petition after him being declared a proclaimed offender,” the judge asked.

To this, the additional prosecutor general of NAB said that a proclaimed offender must surrender before the law.

Upon hearing this, Harris objected and told the bench that the court was asking him the questions but the NAB lawyer was responding to them.

However, Justice Farooq concurred with the NAB counsel and observed that a proclaimed offender did indeed need to surrender before the law.

Meanwhile, NAB insisted that Nawaz Sharif could not get any relief after being declared a proclaimed offender.

“We are not saying that we are rejecting the petition or not listening to anyone. [But] tell us if your new petition can be heard or not?” Justice Farooq asked Sharif’s lawyer. He added that there was no other question before the court today.

Meanwhile, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, the other member of the bench, asked the lawyer if the former prime minister had been admitted to a hospital. He also observed that the medical certificate submitted by Nawaz’s lawyer was of a doctor who himself was in the United States.

“Nawaz Sharif has not been admitted in a hospital in the last seven to eight months,” remarked Justice Kayani.

Harris then told the court that he had informed the court about this matter and asked it to look at it as per the law.

Justice Farooq then intervened and said that they had also asked the federal government to look into the matter.

Upon hearing this, Harris told the court that it was clear in the undertaking given by the former premier before he was allowed to leave that Nawaz Sharif’s health will be reviewed by a representative of the Pakistani High Commission in the UK.

“Did the government made any effort to inquire about the health of Nawaz Sharif after November,” asked the court.

Additional Advocate General Tariq Khokhar said that the federal government had made no effort because the former prime minister was never admitted to a hospital.

“Did the federal government verify the treatment [being administered] since Nawaz Sharif went abroad?” the court then asked the government counsel.

“We did not verify any treatment of Nawaz Sharif because no treatment was done,” responded Khokhar.

Justice Aamir Farooq then observed that the issue before the court now was whether the former prime minister’s petition could be heard or not. He also directed the defense and prosecution lawyers to assist the court on this matter till Tuesday.

“You should submit the decisions of the superior courts on this point as references,” said Justice Amir Farooq after adjourning the hearing of the case till September 15.

Nawaz declared proclaimed offender

An accountability court on Wednesday had indicted former president Asif Ali Zardari and ex-prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the Toshakhana reference while declaring Nawaz a proclaimed offender over his continued absence from the proceedings.

On the same day, Nawaz had also informed the IHC that it was not possible for him to return to Pakistan and surrender.

The PML-N supremo informed the court of his inability to return through a review petition against the IHC’s order that had directed him to surrender before the court by September 10 (today).

The petition was filed by Nawaz’s lawyers, Khawaja Harris and Munawar Iqbal. The application included recent medical reports and requested the court to go ahead with the hearings in the presence of the deposed prime minister’s counsels.

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