The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted former premier Nawaz Sharif bail for six weeks to obtain medical treatment within the country.
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa granted bail today on medical grounds against two surety bonds of Rs5 million each.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) yesterday had also submitted an appeal opposing Sharif’s bail petition and asked that it be rejected.
Sharif is serving a seven-year prison sentence awarded to him by an accountability court in the Al Azizia corruption case. The former premier had filed a bail plea in the IHC on medical grounds but it was turned down last month, as the high court noted that “none of the reports [about Sharif’s condition] suggest that continued incarceration of the petitioner, in any way, would be detrimental to his life”.
PML-N leaders including Pervaiz Malik, Shaista Pervaiz, Khurram Dastagir, Amir Muqam, Sadia Abbasi, Rana Sanaullah and Pervez Rashid arrived in the court ahead of the hearing today. Special security measures were taken to ensure “smooth functioning” of the court during the hearing, which is being held in Court Room No 1.
Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris briefed the court regarding former premier’s medical reports. The chief justice pointed out that Haris had submitted an additional document in court, to which the lawyer responded that it was a letter from one Dr Lawrence to Dr Adnan. When the court inquired who Dr Adnan was, Haris replied that he was Sharif’s personal physician.
Justice Khosa remarked that the document was a correspondence between “‘Person A’ and ‘Person B'” and was not addressed to court. He further questioned the “legal status” of the letter.
“How can we determine this letter’s authenticity? This letter has been written by a private individual to another private individual,” he said, adding that the bench had read it because it was submitted by Haris. “How can this letter be presented as evidence?”
Sharif’s lawyer clarified that he was “not depending upon the letter” in this case.
Haris told the court that the former premier was suffering from heart ailments and had gone through an open-heart surgery, therefore, he required an angiography, which was a “complicated matter”. Haris told the court that one of the veins supplying blood to Sharif’s heart was 43 per cent blocked.
Additionally, he said, Sharif’s blood sugar level and blood pressure needed to be monitored at all times.
“It is said that after a person goes through an open-heart surgery, he becomes 20 years younger,” Justice Khosa remarked. He asked if Sharif can be treated in a hospital in Pakistan and said that the court will allow the former premier to receive treatment in whichever hospital he chooses. Haris insisted that his client needed a bail as Sharif’s “health [condition] is serious”.
Haris said that Sharif was also suffering from kidney disease which was in the third stage, and would need dialysis if it advanced to the fourth stage.
Justice Khosa asked if the petitioner had any other “proof” of Sharif’s deteriorating health apart from Dr Lawrence’s letter.
“Should we believe Dr Lawrence’s letter as it is? If he had said that [Sharif’s] kidney ailment has reached stage four, should we have believed it as well?” the chief justice asked, adding: “You are building your case on medical grounds and all we have [as evidence] is Dr Lawrence’s letter.”
“Can we take a letter as a basis [of proof] in a criminal case?” Justice Khosa asked.
Haris told the bench that five medical boards had been formed to examine Sharif’s medical condition and every one of them had declared that the former premier’s kidney ailment was at the third stage.
They had also recommended that he should be admitted to a hospital. Haris said that Sharif had been “diagnosed with angina” and that he had already had two attacks. He insisted that Sharif’s condition was “worsening day by day” and urged the court to consider the “seriousness of Sharif’s medical condition”.
Haris cited PPP leader Asim Hussain’s case, who had been granted bail on similar grounds and was also allowed to go abroad. The chief justice warned that worsening medical condition was the “best basis” for securing bail if “it’s not misused”.
In order to secure bail on medical grounds, the chief justice said, Sharif’s counsel will have to prove that the former premier’s health is deteriorating. Sharif will also have to prove that staying in jail will threaten his life, Justice Khosa said. According to Sharif’s medical reports, Justice Khosa said, the former prime minister has been suffering from heart ailments since 2003.
The chief justice also observed that Sharif has been suffering from these medical conditions for several years but had “quite an active routine”. He further said that different people had “several types of medical histories but they survive”.
He added that the court had already reviewed Sharif’s medical reports that were submitted earlier and nothing in the them suggested that Sharif was in danger.
“The [medical] history you are telling [the court about] is old,” Justice Khosa said. “We want to see if bail can be granted keeping in view these medical conditions.”
“Are the hospitals and doctors in Pakistan not eligible for Nawaz Sharif’s treatment?” Justice Khosa asked and said the court could order that the former prime minister be treated in a hospital in Pakistan. Haris insisted that Sharif will be “stressed” if he remains in jail. He added that it would not be “appropriate” to treat him while he is under stress.
The chief justice noted that Sharif is a convict added that even if the court grants him bail for a few weeks, he will have to return to jail.
Due to the limited capacity of Court Room No 1, where the is issuing security passes in order to regulate the entry of the people.
According to the press statement, only petitioners and respondents whose cases were fixed in the top court will be allowed to enter the premises of the Supreme Court building. Journalists and advocates who come to the court regularly will be exempted from passes.
The general public who wish to observe proceedings will be required to contact the SP (Security) for security passes.
Bags and purses of visitors will be searched before entry and mobile phones have been prohibited in Court Room No 1.