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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered that the decision regarding disposal of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's appeal in Al-Azizia reference should be taken after the procedure for procuring attendance of the appellant was completed under Section 423 CrPC.

A division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani on Wednesday issued written order, wherein, non-bailable arrest warrants of the ex-PM were issued.

The bench directed the government to execute arrest warrants of the former prime minister through the Pakistani High Commission in the United Kingdom.

The IHC noted that on the last date, it was brought to the attention of the court that the appellant (Nawaz Sharif) had been declared a "proclaimed offender" in another reference by the Accountability Court, Islamabad, and since this was the position, applications filed by the appellant could not proceed further.

The IHC bench noted, "Admittedly, suspension of sentence of appellant and bail granted by this Court lapsed and even Government of Punjab refused to extend suspension of his sentence and since 27.02.2020, the appellant is not on bail."

It further stated that they had already ordered the appellant to appear before the court and surrender to the authorities before the next date of the hearing, which he did not do so, and filed another application.

"It is an admitted position that fugitive from law has no rights before the court of law except where exceptional circumstances exist," maintained the IHC bench.

It added that the appellant was not entitled to invoke inherent jurisdiction and request recalling of order dated 01 September 2020 on the basis of his indisposition when especially on the repeated queries, the counsel for the appellant contended that appellant was not hospitalized.

It stated that the appellant's suspension of sentence ended on 27 February 2020, and he did not challenge the said order passed by the Government of Punjab, nor did he approached this court for further extension in suspension of sentence; the appellant remained silent for almost six months till such time that instant appeals were fixed.

"The conduct of the appellant, in the facts and circumstances, does not warrant any exercise of discretion in his favour," the bench added.

In the matter of Avenfield reference, Sharif's counsel contended that the appellant's sentence was suspended and he was granted bail by this court, and it was submitted that since then the appellant had to travel abroad for his treatment due to life threatening indisposition.

It was further contended that the appellant was unable to return to Pakistan and appear before the court due to his condition.

The court noted in its order that since in a connected appeal i.e. Criminal Appeal No.01 of 2019, the bail granted to the appellant lapsed, hence orders had been passed for his attendance and appearance before the Court.

In the referred appeal, an application was also filed seeking almost the same relief as in the instant application.

It added that the said application had been disposed of, vide judgment of the even date on the ground that first attendance of the appellant was to be procured and the decision regarding the disposal of the appeal on merit shall be rendered after the procedure was completed.

"Since the instant application is also to the same effect as mentioned above and the appellant has been declared a proclaimed offender and also the fact that he is seeking perpetual exemption in essence, the appl0ication is misconceived," maintained the bench.

It further said that for what has been stated above, the instant application is disposed of, however, it is clarified that the decision regarding the disposal of the appeal of the appellant on merit under Section 423 CrPC shall be taken after the procedure for procuring attendance of the appellant is completed, in accordance with Section 423 CrPC and the applicable law.

The IHC bench also said that since the appellant is not present, which he ought to have been under the terms of the suspension of sentence and bail granted to the appellant, non-bailable warrants of the appellant are issued.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020