The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday constituted a fresh medical board comprising three doctors from the neurosurgery department of a private hospital to examine former provincial information minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, who sought bail in the 5.78-billion-rupee corruption reference against him on medical grounds.
The National Accountability Bureau had accused Memon, information department officials, including Zulfiqar Ali Shalwani and Sarang Latif, and representatives of advertising agencies of committing corruption of over Rs5.76 billion while awarding advertisements of the government’s awareness campaigns in the electronic media in 2013.
Memon’s counsel sought bail for the petitioner on medical grounds, saying that the former minister required medical treatment and surgery as recommended by the medical board constituted by the trial court.
He said that on March 2 the SHC had rejected Memon’s bail petition with the observation that the matter pertaining to the former minister’s medical treatment and hospitalisation was taken up by the Supreme Court.
He added that the top court had disposed of the suo motu proceedings with regard to Memon’s hospitalisation after withdrawing the notices against the doctors who had said the former minister should be treated at a hospital.
The counsel said the SC had not issued any adverse remarks against the medical board’s report, adding that the top court had observed that if the petitioner was unwell and needed to be hospitalised or released on bail, the matter should be decided by the court of competent jurisdiction.
He requested the high court to grant Memon bail on medical grounds as various medical boards constituted by the government were of the opinion that the former minister needed surgery, which, he said, was not possible at the prison hospital, adding that delays could cause his client to suffer permanent disability.
After the preliminary hearing of the petition, the SHC’s division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro observed that the medical reports filed by the counsel were slightly outdated.
The court, therefore, constituted a fresh medical board headed by Prof Dr Athar Inam of a private hospital to examine the condition of the former minister. The bench said the medical board should thoroughly examine the petitioner in respect of his back ailment and provide its independent expert opinion if the illness could be treated at the prison hospital and if his continuous incarceration was hazardous to his life.
The SHC directed the administrator of the private hospital to ensure that the medical board to examine the petitioner was formed within three days and that its report was submitted to the court by April 26. The bench said that all the expenses for forming the medical board and for Memon’s examination should be borne by the former minister.
The court had earlier dismissed the protective bail petitions of Memon and 13 others, observing that the current case was more about a joint enterprise, whereby every accused played their role to achieve a criminal objective, which all of them were aware of and which could not have been achieved without the active participation of everyone.