Former PM Nawaz Sharif can travel abroad for treatment without submitting indemnity bonds after the Lahore High Court ruled in his favour on Saturday.
The court has instructed the government to remove the name of the PML-N supremo from the Exit Control List. Nawaz has been given permission to go abroad for four weeks but that can be extended. His brother, Shehbaz Sharif, will accompany him on the journey.
A bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem announced the verdict after Shehbaz submitted an undertaking that in which he said that if Nawaz’s health permits, he will return to the country. He said he will come back and face the cases against him.
The plea was filed by Shehbaz to remove Nawaz’s name from the ECL. The plea also opposed the government’s condition that the former PM has to pay an Rs7 billion indemnity bond to leave.
On November 13, the government allowed Nawaz to travel abroad only if he submits Rs7 billion surety bonds before leaving. “Nawaz Sharif can go abroad by submitting Rs7 billion indemnity bonds,” said Law Minister Farogh Naseem at a press conference.
Nawaz was granted interim bail on humanitarian grounds on October 26 by the Islamabad High Court in the Al-Azizia corruption reference. The bail was approved after the National Accountability Bureau decided not to oppose it. The former premier was seeking treatment at Lahore’s Services Hospital and then Sharif Medical City after his health deteriorated last month.
Shehbaz, while speaking to media outside the court, said that we would like to thank everyone for praying for his brother’s health and supporting them. The verdict has been given on a humanitarian basis, he added.
“The government’s condition on indemnity bonds was not legal and even the court has deemed it to be unacceptable,” he remarked. “The nation’s prayers have been answered.”
Before the hearing begins, we would like to ask, can the conditions be separated, asked the judges. Is there anything in the memorandum saying this, they asked. They questioned whether the government’s memorandum had been prepared on humanitarian grounds and whether the indemnity bonds could be reduced.
Additional Attorney General Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan said that Nawaz Sharif is sick and needs to go abroad for medical treatment. But he has to satisfy the court first, he argued.
The Sharif family argued that after the trial court sentenced him in July, Nawaz returned to Pakistan. The appeal against the sentence was then heard by the Islamabad High Court, said the lawyers. The government now wants that same money he was accused of misappropriating in that case back, they argued.
Shehbaz has told the court that God willing, Nawaz will return to Pakistan. The additional attorney general said the indemnity bond was just a legal undertaking that he would return. The court asked Shehbaz to submit his guarantee in writing before it passes any orders.
Pervez asked for 10 minutes to draft the undertaking and then submitted the draft to the judges in their chamber. Shehbaz then submitted the written undertaking,
According to SAMAA TV’s Islamabad bureau chief Khalid Azim, if Nawaz Sharif doesn’t return to the country, regardless of the indemnity bond, contempt of court proceedings would be initiated himself. An indemnity bond would just identify the properties and assets that would be seized by the court, he explained.