LHC admits petition seeking permission for Sharif’s travel - GulfToday

LHC admits petition seeking permission for Sharif’s travel

Nawaz-Sharif-750

Nawaz Sharif. File

Tariq Butt

After a long hearing, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday declared maintainable and worth hearing a petition seeking undoing of the condition of Rs7.5 billion indemnity bond attached by the federal government to permission to deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for medical treatment.

The two-judge bench headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi reserved its ruling on the maintainability of the petition that it announced after three hours.

At the outset of the hearing, the court asked if the federal government had submitted its written reply, to which Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Ishtiaq A Khan, responded in the affirmative.

The bench asked that a copy of the response be given to the petitioner’s lawyer and told them that if they needed, they could take time to read the government’s response.

In its 45-page reply, the government opposed the request seeking unconditional permission for Sharif to travel abroad, saying the LHC does not have the jurisdiction to hear the petition. Cases against Sharif are being heard in various courts, the government said, adding that it has allowed the former prime minister to travel abroad for four weeks.

According to the government response, Sharif’s name was added to the Exit Control List (ECL) based on the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) recommendation. The government pleaded to the court to reject the petition as non-maintainable.

The petitioner, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif’s counsel Amjad Pervez argued that the LHC has the authority to hear the petition.

He said that several past court judgements support their stance, and presented copies of court orders to support his argument for Sharif’s name to be taken off the ECL unconditionally.

The government cannot deprive anyone of their fundamental rights, the lawyer argued, citing the example of former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf who was allowed to travel abroad.

At this, the bench pointed out that Musharraf’s case could not be referenced because he had not been convicted when his name was taken off the no-fly list.

Justice Najafi noted that according to the record NAB has left the entire matter relating to removing Sharif’s name from the ECL to the government.

Pervez said NAB had in a letter stated that the authority to add or remove names from the ECL rested with the federal government. He said following this statement, the federal law minister had asked NAB to again clarify its stance on the matter.

The government lawyer informed the court that the names of Sharif and his children Maryam, Hassan and Hussain were added to the ECL in the London apartments’ case after the Supreme Court had ordered the filing of references against them.

He said Sharif’s name was added to the no-fly list after fulfilling all legal requirements.

Using an example, the bench asked which court a person would approach if they were a resident of Karachi and their name was added to the ECL in Islamabad. “Every case has different merits and record,” the government lawyer responded.

He said because Sharif was sentenced by a NAB court in Islamabad and the appeal against it is being heard in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), the request seeking removal of Sharif’s name from the ECL could only be heard by the IHC.

Meanwhile, PML-N lawmakers have tendered their resignations from all the standing committees of Punjab Assembly to register their protest over not appointing Hamza Shahbaz as the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

A parliamentary delegation of the PML-N comprising senior lawmakers including Samiullah Khan, Chaudhry Iqbal Gujjar, Malik Nadeem Kamran and Zeeshan Rafique submitted the resignations of 100 members of standing committees in the assembly secretariat.

The resignations were submitted to Parliamentary Affairs director general Anayatullah Lak in the assembly secretariat while Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has also been intimated in this regard.