–CJP led three-judge bench also turns down ex-PM’s petition seeking permission for medical treatment in UK
–Justice Khosa says court gave Nawaz six weeks for medical treatment but he seemingly spent entire time in tests alone
–Defends SC order for interim bail to Nawaz, says it’s common practice as hundreds of convicts are granted bail on medical grounds
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday rejected former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s separate petitions seeking an extension in his six-week bail — which expires on May 7 — in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case, and permission for medical treatment in the United Kingdom.
In its short order, the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa stated that Nawaz was given six weeks for medical treatment, but it seemed he had spent the entire time in tests alone.
During the hearing, the CJP remarked that the six-week bail was granted on the basis of a report from a medical board which had recommended angiography. With the latest plea for permission to go abroad, the counsel had exceeded from the scope of the initial petition, Justice Khosa said.
Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris had earlier argued that according to the written order of the court, his client cannot apply for bail before surrendering himself to the authorities. He said that this aspect of the written order had some contradictions with the verbal orders issued in the case.
To this, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah reminded the counsel that anything said by judges before signing their verdict is called an observation and not a ruling.
The counsel then asked the court to extend his client’s bail for eight more weeks. He argued that the health condition of his client was deteriorating. He said that the medical reports of Nawaz suggested an angiography. To this, the chief justice responded that an angiography needs an hour, whereas the court had granted six weeks.
The counsel argued said that the blockage in Nawaz’s carotid artery had increased by 50 per cent, “which is an alarming sign”. He further said that a cardiac MRI is used across the world as an alternative for angiography but the process is not offered anywhere in Pakistan.
The chief justice rejected the argument, saying that the doctors quoted in court had not said anything in this regard that may be considered to be a final assessment of Nawaz’s medical condition.
He, however, conceded that new medical reports did show that Nawaz’s health was worsening and not improving. CJP Khosa said it was possible for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo to be treated in prison, as the superintendent would be empowered to send him to hospital as and when required.
The chief justice also made it clear that the SC cannot review its order on the basis of new medical reports regarding Nawaz’s health.
“Anyone who applies for bail on medical grounds claims their life is in danger,” he said, adding that if that route is taken, the review will become an unending process.
The CJP clarified that a review did not entail reconsideration and, rather, was a process wherein the court only corrects its errors.
Regarding Nawaz’s stress levels, the CJP noted that it was natural for every prisoner to be under stress in jail.
The CJP also referred to a case wherein the SC had cancelled a convict’s interim bail on the grounds that he had failed to undergo the operation that he purportedly required.
On the medical opinion shared by foreign doctors, the SC bench noted that they had just offered their services for treatment through letters. Those letters are not enough for us to accept their opinion, said CJP Khosa.
Another member of the bench, Justice Yahya Afridi, said matters must be dealt in accordance with the law and relief should not be afforded on the opinion of individual doctors.
The court should only rely on opinions proffered by medical boards, he said.
Earlier, CJP Khosa defended the SC order for interim bail saying that it was common practice as hundreds of convicts were granted bail on medical grounds.
Even death sentences have been suspended over medical concerns, so it is surprising to see the courts being maligned in this instance, said the CJP.
The court later denied the plea through a short order.
NAWAZ SEEKS MORE TIME:
On April 30, Nawaz had filed an application in the apex court seeking an extension in his six-week bail in the Al-Azizia corruption reference.
The application had called for an extension in bail — which expires on May 7 — until the verdict on his review petition concerning a March 26 order, through which Nawaz sought permission to leave the country.
“Given the complicated and life-threatening nature of ischemic heart disease, carotid artery disease, lymphadenopathy and renal artery stenosis, from which the petitioner [Nawaz Sharif] is admittedly suffering […] it is in the interest of justice that condition imposed for the petitioner’s release on bail merits review,” the petition filed by Nawaz through his counsel Khawaja Haris had argued.
The condition in question was that Nawaz surrender himself to the authorities before he applies for bail again.
The petition contended that the only feasible option available to Nawaz was to be treated by the same medical practitioners who were looking after him earlier in the United Kingdom. “Unforgivable damage will occur if the bail is not extended,” the application had read.
On March 26, the SC had suspended Nawaz’s sentence in the Azizia Steel Mills case and granted him bail for six weeks — but on the condition that he would not leave Pakistan during that period.
The order further said that Nawaz will have to surrender to the law once the six week period expired and that he could not apply for an extension in the bail without doing so.