–IHC says will take up Nawaz’s plea seeking suspension of conviction in Al-Azizia case on Tuesday
–Doctor says Nawaz Sharif’s condition dangerous, could get out of hand if not properly treated
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday granted bail to critically ill former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills on medical grounds, but the ex-PM has not been released yet as his application pertaining to suspension of conviction in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case is still pending in the Islamabad High Court, which is slated to take up the plea on Tuesday.
A two-member LHC bench, headed by Justice Baqar Najafi, granted Nawaz bail in the CSM case after an appeal was filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif, seeking his elder brother’s release, who is detained by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
According to the short order, the former premier will have to submit two surety bonds worth Rs10 million each for his release.
“We applied for bail on the grounds that his health condition was deteriorating and that he needs better treatment,” his lawyer, Azam Nazir Tarar, told Reuters after the ruling.
Meanwhile, the former prime minister’s health continues to deteriorate. Though there have been reports of a steady rise in the ex-PM’s platelets, doctors have started giving him “blood-thinning medicines” after he complained of heart pain.
It is yet to be seen whether Nawaz Sharif would be moved to another hospital or allowed to go abroad for treatment as his lawyer had requested.
During the hearing, a NAB prosecutor told the court that “every life, including that of Nawaz Sharif, is precious” and claimed the former premier’s condition was “treatable”.
However, Services Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS) Principal Dr Mahmood Ayaz informed the court that the former premier’s condition was “extremely serious”, as he submitted a detailed medical report of the PML-N supreme leader.
He told the court that a medical board, which also includes Nawaz’s personal physician, meets twice every day to discuss Nawaz’s condition. The former prime minister has been diagnosed with immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), a disease that causes the breakdown of blood cells.
However, the doctors have said that the disease is “treatable” in Pakistan. Dr Ayaz told the court that Nawaz’s platelet count was constantly reducing, adding that the hospital had conducted tests to see if Nawaz was suffering from dengue.
“We inject platelets every day but they destruct every day,” Dr Ayaz said and added: “Something or the other is destroying Nawaz Sharif’s platelets.”
He said that steroids will have to be injected in order to treat Nawaz. “We have to conduct a bone marrow test but we cannot inject a needle in Nawaz Sharif’s bone,” he said.
Dr Ayaz informed the court that Nawaz is a diabetes patient and is suffering from several other ailments as well.
The bench told the doctor to inform the court about Nawaz’s recent condition by 12pm and adjourned the hearing until 12:30pm. Subsequently, the hearing was resumed after 3:30 pm.
An accountability court had earlier this month granted NAB a 14-day physical remand of Nawaz in connection with the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case. As the remand expired today, the accountability sought the former PM’s medical report in the case.
The petitioner has severe external existent comorbid conditions like diabetes mellitus, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, hyperuraecaemia, chronic renal disease and ischaemic heart disease, said the court in a detailed verdict, alluding to the medical report submitted by the board.
“The condition of the patient is critical and the current scenario of very low platelet count has added to the seriousness of nature of disease is visible.”
The board, in its report to the court, had also said that Nawaz’s “anti-platelet therapy can be resumed once platelets improve to thirty thousand and that travel may be considered once platelets improve to beyond fifty thousands and his cardiac status allows”.
The court, in its judgement also observed that during the night between October 24 and 25, “the petitioner experienced episode of central chest pain radiating to both arms which was relieved with sublingual nitroglycerine spray”.
According to the judgement, the head of the medical board Prof Dr Mahmood Ayaz, also apprised the court of the main risk which is the “rapid decline of platelets to 6,000 per microliter”. Dr Ayaz said that further investigation “will be possible only if the number of platelets have been increased to 20,000 per microliter” and that the board is “trying its best” in this regard.
Given the aforementioned observations, the court ruled that Nawaz’s condition “is very precarious and critical, as at present there is no sign of further improvement in platelets despite the best available treatment being extended to him in the last few days”.
“We consider it as a human right case as an ailing patient is entitled to the best treatment available on earth but within his reach. The petitioner is obviously sick and a senior citizen.
“The medical reports have remained unchallenged by the prosecution. The petitioner appears to be physically handicapped and his medical reports suggest the seriousness of his disease which can be fatal to his life. The condition of the petitioner is undoubtedly serious and as such he needs the treatment in conducive condition free from any kind of pressure with full peace of mind,” ruled the court.
“Obviously, the purpose of bail on medical ground is to ensure that an under-trial prisoner was allowed to avail medical treatment and, or, surgical intervention, if need be, in hospital of his choice in the country or outside the country to ensure stoppage of his further deterioration of health and not to set him at liberty till conclusion of the trial,” the court further stated in its judgment.
IHC DISCUSSES NAWAZ’S HEALTH:
Separately, a two-member IHC bench, comprising Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, heard Shehbaz’s petition seeking the suspension of Nawaz’s sentence in the Al-Azizia case and release on bail.
During the proceedings, Services Hospital Medical Superintendent (MS) Dr Saleem Cheema, who is a member of the medical board, said that Nawaz’s condition was dangerous. The judge pointed out that the situation was not described as dangerous in the report.
Dr Cheema, however, clarified that it had been mentioned towards the end of the report, which was submitted in the court.
The doctor said that the former premier’s ailment had not yet been diagnosed, adding that while platelets were being formed, the levels were also falling. He said that they have to conduct some tests but can only do so once Nawaz’s health improves.
Justice Kayani asked if the former premier was being provided with the best treatment, to which the doctor replied in the affirmative.
The IHC judge asked if there was a threat to the former premier’s life, in response to which Dr Cheema said: “If he doesn’t receive immediate treatment, his life is in danger.”
He added that Nawaz’s personal physician Dr Adnan Khan was aware of the situation.
“Is there any risk factor? Is this a fatal disease?” asked Justice Kayani, to which Dr Cheema responded: “If it is not treated.”
Justice Farooq said that doctors are the best judges in this situation and they can provide the correct information regarding the medical treatment.
The IHC bench asked Nawaz’s personal physician to submit his concerns to the court, adjourning the case till Tuesday.
Concluding the proceedings, Justice Kayani said that they were not medical experts and the doctors would have to explain whether there was a threat to Nawaz’s life. He said that Nawaz could not be granted bail on a legal basis; however, the court was looking at the petition on the basis of the former premier’s medical condition.