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September 16, 2020

IHC turns down Nawaz’s plea for exemption from Al-Azizia hearings

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September 16, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday dismissed Nawaz Sharif’s petition seeking exemption from hearings in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference and issued non-bailable arrest warrants against the former prime minister.

The ruling stated that the court will initiate the process to declare the PML-N supremo as an absconder if he fails to surrender by September 22.

The court also declared that the accused is not entitled to pursue his appeals through any of his representatives.

A division bench, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhter Kiyani, asked that if a person was never admitted to any hospital in the last seven months abroad, why could not he stay in Pakistan.

Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris argued that former president Pervez Musharraf was allowed to contest his case pertaining to assets through his representative. That had proved that a lawyer could be permitted to appear on behalf of his client in an extraordinary situation, he added.

He further argued that Musharraf’s trial continued in a high treason case even in his absence. To this, the bench asked whether these references were acceptable in Nawaz Sharif’s matter as the court was hearing a criminal case and the lawyer was demanding exemption for his client.

Haris said his client had been in jail and filed an appeal against his jail sentence. The bench observed that criminal law was applicable where the NAB law was found silent.

Concluding his arguments, Haris said former prime minister could not appear before the court due to his health condition. He said NAB prosecutor had not raised any objection on the authenticity of Nawaz Sharif’s medical certificate and requested the court allow his client to be exempt from hearings and conduct the same in his appeals through a representative.

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor Jahanzaib Bharwana argued that Sharif’s petitions regarding exemption from hearing were non-maintainable as the court had ordered him to surrender before it. The bail of the accused had expired in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case, he said.

To this, the bench said it was an admitted fact that the former prime minister did not appear before the bench. The court observed that an absconder from the law was not entitled for any legal relief. After conclusion of arguments from both sides, the bench dismissed the former prime minister’s petition and issued non-bailable arrest warrants against him.