LHC to hear petition against indemnity bond today

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The Lahore High Court (LHC) will on Saturday hear a petition challenging  the government’s condition of furnishing indemnity bonds in order to secure the removal of ailing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL).

The high court had yesterday declared the petition as  maintainable after hearing the arguments of PML-N’s legal team and the government — which has been named as respondent along with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The case was heard by a two-judge bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem.

The government, represented by Additional Attorney General (AAG) Chaudhry Ishtiaq A. Khan, had argued that the petition was not within the jurisdiction of the LHC. The argument was rejected by the bench, which relied upon superior courts’ judgements cited by PML-N’s legal team and observed that the petition was maintainable before the LHC.

“The arguments advanced by the learned additional attorney general that the conditions mentioned in the impugned memorandum are based upon the judgement pronounced by the accountability court, Islamabad, and challenged before the Islamabad High Court, therefore, this court lacks jurisdiction, has not impressed us,” said the bench in its three-page short verdict.

On Wednesday, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government, after much deliberation, had granted a one-time permission to Nawaz for four weeks to travel abroad for his treatment provided he submitted indemnity bonds worth over Rs7.5 billion.

The condition was challenged in LHC by the PML-N legal team, on behalf of the former premier, on Thursday and was taken up by the two-member bench on the same day.

Nawaz, who was diagnosed with an immune system disorder, has been advised to go abroad for medical treatment. The name of the former premier — who is convicted in two corruption cases and is a suspect in another — was placed on the ECL.

The former prime minister was rushed from Kot Lakhpat jail to the hospital last month after his personal physician Dr Adnan Khan raised an alarm over his deteriorating health. Following this, Shehbaz Sharif had submitted a request to the interior ministry as well as NAB for the removal of Nawaz’s name from the ECL so that the former prime minister could travel abroad for medical treatment.

Nawaz, who was incarcerated after an accountability court found him guilty in the Al Azizia corruption reference, was granted bail by the Islamabad High Court on humanitarian grounds. He also obtained bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case, in which he is a suspect, from the LHC.

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