LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Saturday ordered the federal government to remove Nawaz Sharif’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL), allowing the ailing PML-N leader to travel abroad for his medical treatment for a period of four weeks.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said that Nawaz “is being allowed to leave immediately without the conditions that the federal government had wanted to impose” in an undertaking, on the phrasing of which the two parties had argued on the entire day.
“The court has ended the government’s indemnity bond condition,” he added.
At the onset of the hearing, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, in a written undertaking, assured the high court that his elder brother Nawaz Sharif would return to Pakistan after getting treatment abroad.
Before proceedings were once again delayed for a short while, the LHC said that it would create its own draft of the undertaking submitted by Shehbaz guaranteeing Nawaz’s return to the country after he recovers.
The development came after the government and the Sharif family failed to agree on the drafting on the terms of the draft.
A division bench of the LHC asked Sharif’s counsel to submit a draft of the undertaking that the PML-N supremo would return to Pakistan.
The order came during the hearing of a petition challenging the government’s condition that Sharif furnish an indemnity bond for the removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL).
Amjad Pervez, lawyer for Shehbaz, submitted a two-page handwritten draft on behalf of Shehbaz Sharif with the court’s associate, which was later delivered to judge’s chamber.
According to reports, the draft stated Nawaz would return to the country as soon as his doctors abroad allow him to.
It said the PML-N supremo would face the cases against him in the courts upon his return.
It further said Nawaz Sharif is going abroad on the advice of Pakistani doctors.
The draft was shared with the federation after which the additional attorney general too submitted a draft.
The lawyer representing the government said the draft did not make any mention of the 8-week bail granted to Nawaz Sharif. He said the undertaking constitutes a violation of Islamabad High Court orders issued on Sharif’s bail plea.
He said the court has fixed an appeal for hearing on November 25 where Sharif’s presence was also necessary.
The draft submitted by government stated that Nawaz Sharif would go abroad on the doctors advice and would have to return when he is declared fit by his doctors.
It said Sharif would have to return whenever the government wants him to.
The draft demanded Shehbaz Sharif give an affidavit that he would pay the fine if Nawaz Sharif fails to return.
Shehbaz Sharif’s lawyer Ashtar Ausaf dismissed the government’s draft calling it illegal.
Earlier, Additional Attorney General Ishtiaq A Khan told the court, “We will have no objection if Nawaz Sharif wants to go abroad for treatment.”
But he said the former prime minister will have to satisfy the court before leaving the country.
He said Nawaz Sharif could submit the surety bond to the court if he is unwilling to deposit it with the government.
The court also asked Shehbaz about the role he could play to bring his elder brother back to the country.
At the onset of the hearing, the court said it will lay out seven questions that require to be answered:
– Whether the name of a convicted person can be removed from ECL?
– Can one-sided conditions be set for removing a person’s name from the ECL?
– What will be the status of court orders if the sentence is suspended?
– Whether the parties can change their stance regarding an indemnity bond?
– Was the memorandum issued on humanitarian grounds?
– Can anything be separated from the memorandum?
– Can the terms set be separated?
PML-N leaders Shehbaz Sharif, Amir Muqam, Javed Hashmi and Senator Pervez Rashid were present in the courtroom.
During Friday’s hearing, the LHC dismissed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the federal government’s stance challenging the maintainability of the plea and called it admissible.
The two-member bench headed by Justice Ali Baqir Najafi and comprising Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem, resumed the hearing of the case, where the federal government and NAB submitted their replies to the two-member bench.
In its written verdict, the LHC said that the federal government’s objection regarding the court’s jurisdiction was not right, adding that the case fell under its jurisdiction.
During yesterday’s hearing, the federal government urged the court to maintain its condition of seeking a security bond from the former prime minister.
Appearing on behalf of the federal government, Additional Attorney General Ishtiaq A Khan had objected to the maintainability of the petition and requested that the petition be dismissed for being “non-maintainable”.
He contended that Nawaz should approach the Islamabad High Court instead for removal of his name from the ECL, as the federal government had placed his name on the list and the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the plea.
The government in its 45-page reply opposed the removal of Nawaz’s name from ECL without a security bond.
It argued that the PML-N supremo was convicted which is why he should not be allowed to leave the country without submitting a security bond.
The accountability watchdog also submitted its four-page reply to the court.
While, Nawaz’s counsel Amjad Pervez stated that the LHC could hear the petition as the NAB was a federal institution. The counsel argued that the condition of furnishing Rs7.5 billion surety bonds was not based on any provision of law.
After hearing the arguments, the high court reserved its judgment on the maintainability of PML-N’s petition.
It later released its three-page order and rejected federal government and NAB’s objection regarding maintainability of the petition.