- IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah imposes a fine of Rs 5,000 on the petitioner
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) dismissed on Monday a petition seeking to stop former premier Nawaz Sharif from being issued a diplomatic passport, Aaj News reported.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah announced the verdict and imposed a fine of Rs5,000 on the petitioner, advocate Naeem Haider Panjutha, who had filed the petition last week.
His argument was that Nawaz was “a court absconder who was convicted by the National Accountability Court for corruption" and that "it is violative of law, a mockery of the justice system and disgrace to the nation if a diplomatic passport is issued to a convict”.
Referring to media reports that Nawaz was being issued a diplomatic passport on the instructions of his brother, the newly-elected PM Shehbaz Sharif, he said Nawaz had “yet to surrender before the law”, while “the federal government is hurriedly trying to issue [a] diplomatic passport to him."
He asked the court to stop the issuance of a diplomatic passport to Nawaz, direct the Establishment Division secretary to arrest him immediately upon his arrival in Pakistan and produce him before a court.
The “issuance of a diplomatic passport to a convict is tantamount to bestowing respect, state protocols and dignity to a convict and if the convict is a court absconder it becomes a disgrace to the entire judicial system of the country,” he said, adding the move would also be “against the spirit of the Constitution and against the fundamental rights whereby it has been guaranteed to every citizen that they will be treated equally”.
However, the IHC dismissed the plea, stating that the petition "is based on unreliable material and is, therefore, frivolous".
In August 2021, Nawaz filed an appeal with the British Immigration Tribunal after the Home Department refused to extend his stay on “medical grounds” any further. Nawaz, whose passport expired in February 2021, can legally remain in the UK till the tribunal issues its decision.