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November 15, 2019

Political nature litigation: No respite to superior courts as politicians, parliamentunable to resolve disputes

Top Story

November 15, 2019

ISLAMABAD: As the Parliament and politicians dismally fail to resolve contentious issues, superior courts are being burdened with adjudication of litigation of political nature with the latest case have been landed in the Lahore High Court (LHC), seeking deletion of deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL).

While hearing various petitions, Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah has consistently urged the lawmakers and political figures to sort out the debatable matters among themselves and in the Parliament and leave the courts to reduce their massive workload of cases.

He echoed the same view once again while hearing a challenge to the issuance of a large number of presidential ordinances, filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) member of the National Assembly Barrister Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha.

“Why are the fair laws being challenged in the IHC? It seems an issue of ego on the both sides. It is the duty of the Parliament to address people’s problems. Legislation is the work of those sitting in the Parliament.

The court has many other things to do; keep the courts away from political problems. Unfortunately mostly ordinances were passed in dictatorial rule,” the IHC head remarked.

While the petitions are being regularly filed by politicians belonging to different political parties, their top leaders continue to harp on the mantra that all the institutions should limit themselves to the confines of the Constitution so that no side has any complaint against the other. They assert that such recourse is strictly required in a democratic dispensation.

Starting with the back-to-back hearings in the Supreme Court against Nawaz Sharif in the Panama Papers case three years back, not only some accountability courts but also the apex court, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), IHC and Lahore High Court (LHC) have been uninterruptedly inundated with several cases having political ramifications. They involved the former prime minister in particular and other members of the Sharif family and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders in general.

These top judicial forums have consumed thousands of hours on holding proceedings on this kind of litigation. A number of government law officers have been immensely preoccupied with speaking for the official stand in these bodies. Such disputes have kept several subordinate courts as well as the superior judiciary much busy.

The Imran Khan government has pronounced its decision that Nawaz Sharif can once go abroad for treatment of his grave diseases while keeping his name on the ECL but he has to deposit with the Interior Ministry an indemnity bond valuing over Rs7.5 billion, which covers the fines and other financial implications of the accountability courts judgments against him.

The condition has been attached to the one-time wavier when it is yet to be determined at the high court level and subsequently in the Supreme Court whether these fines and convictions are final and would be struck down. The time period required to reach these verdicts finality is not known to anybody.

By attaching the condition of bond, the prime minister has conveyed to his supporters that he has lived up to his commitment and promise that he will not let any “corrupt” politician off the hook unless he pays the “looted” money.

Another loud and clear message in the official response is that he will not give the relief asked for, and if Nawaz Sharif is aggrieved by its decision, he should knock at the door of a superior court. While the government says it took the decision of allowing the former prime minister to proceed abroad for four weeks on humanitarian grounds, it still put the condition of Rs7.5 billion indemnity bond. On the other hand, the stand of Nawaz Sharif and PML-N is that the Executive can’t act as a court of law and since they have already submitted to the LHC and IHC the requisite surety/bail bonds as ordered, they would not file any new document because it is unjustified and illegal.

As neither side is inclined to budge from its perspective, the matter has gone to the LHC once again after 17 days when it had granted bail to the ex-premier in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills investigation being conducted by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The obvious fundamental prayer in the petition submitted to the LHC is to strike off the name of the former premier from the ECL so that he can rush abroad for medical treatment.

Despite their unbridgeable differences on the question of indemnity bond, the two sides are in total agreement that Nawaz Sharif is very seriously ill due to his multiple health problems and needs immediate foreign treatment without loss of even a moment. The prime minister has declared more than once that he personally got checked Nawaz Sharif’s health condition.