Nawaz’s immigration appeal unheard for over a year

August 19, 2022

Last August, the Home Office turned down Nawaz Sharif’s application for a stay

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Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif (3L), brother of Pakistan's current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, leaves property in west London on May 11, 2022. — AFP

LONDON: Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s appeal at the UK Immigration Tribunal has not been heard for over a year since the former premier’s plea for an extension of stay was refused by the UK Home Office.

Credible sources in the UK government have shared with The News and Geo that Mr Sharif’s appeal has yet not been heard at the First Tier Tribunal due to several factors, such as the Home Office seeking an extension of time to file its response to the representations made by Mr Sharif’s lawyers.

Last August, the Home Office turned down Nawaz Sharif’s application for a stay but gave him an in-country right of appeal against the Home Office decision. This meant that Mr Sharif was not required to leave the UK until he had exhausted all his appeal rights in the UK. Soon after the Nawaz lawyers appealed in August last year, the said appeal is still outstanding in the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) and is yet to be heard before the FTT Judge.

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On Pakistani social media, a piece of news circulated on Tuesday 16 August 2022 that Nawaz Sharif has been asked by the UK government to leave by the 25th of September 2022 but the UK government sources have said that this was a piece of fake news as Nawaz Sharif’s appeal has several stages to go through before a final decision is made. The UK government source said that Sharif’s appeal has not yet been heard by the First Tribunal on the merits of the case.

On 18 February this year, a case management hearing took place at the First Tier Tribunal where Nawaz Sharif was represented by his lawyers. There was no need for Mr Nawaz to attend the case management hearing and that is where a schedule was agreed upon for all parties to file their bundles for the case to progress. It’s understood that a hearing is scheduled to take place soon. Barrister Ghulam Mustafa, who is working as a senior immigration lawyer and head of the Immigration Department at a London-based law firm, Law Lane Solicitors, explained the whole process and said that Nawaz Sharif’s appeal process has a long way to go as this is the first stage of the appeal and if Nawaz Sharif’s appeal is not allowed at this stage, this will not mean that it is the end of his appeal rights in the UK.

Mr Ghulam Mustafa added: “Once the FTT hears the case, the judge will deliver his verdict normally within a few weeks, and in rare cases, the decisions have been witnessed to have been promulgated by the Honourable Judges after a few months from the date of the actual hearing. However, delays have occurred in the FTT hearings and decisions mainly due to the COvid-19.”

Mr Mustafa explained that if Mr Sharif’s appeal is upheld, in favour of the Home Office and/or overturned in favour of the appellant at this stage, both the parties will have a right to apply for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal within 14 days from the date of the decision of the FTT, and this permission needs to be sought from the FTT itself at the first stage. This application is based on any error of law of the FTT Judge’s decision to dismiss the appeal.

He explained: “If the FTT refuses permission, either aggrieved party will be able to take another bite to the cherry in that by way of making a further application for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal (UT) directly within 14 days of the decision based on an error of law. If the Upper Tribunal Judge accepts that there was an error of law committed by the FTT judge, in that scenario he may order and remit the case to FTT for a fresh hearing before a different judge of the FTT. If the UT Judge finds no error of law, the matter is then certified by the Judge and hence all appeal rights are exhausted by the party challenging the decision.”

“However, if the UT Judge does not certify the decision but in any event refuses permission, then the aggrieved party may challenge the decision to the next stage in the Court of Appeal by seeking permission to appeal in the said court. Needless to mention here that the High Court is excluded in this process as this is also known as a leapfrog rule.”

Barrister Ghulam Mustafa said that since Mr Sharif is at the initial stage of the appeal process, it may take at least over a year before the matter takes finality. “Thus all about his return news to Pakistan seems speculative in nature.”

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in London three years ago in November 2019 in an air ambulance to seek medical treatment for multiple diseases after he was allowed to leave Pakistan by the Pakistani Courts. He was accompanied by his brother Shehbaz Sharif and a personal physician as he was taken to his London residence at Avenfield apartments. Nawaz Sharif had arrived in London for a few weeks only and he has been getting regular medical check-ups at the Harley Street clinic. He decided not to return to Pakistan and delivered speeches to party workers from London and has been conducting party affairs ever since from here.

There are reports that the PMLN wants him to lead the next elections, but he has not finalised his plan to return to Pakistan. In a recent speech, the former premier Imran Khan speculated that the current government led by Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) plans to bring Nawaz back to Pakistan soon.

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