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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has turned down a contempt of court petition against incumbent Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and former premier Nawaz Sharif regarding the latter’s failure to return to Pakistan.

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Monday heard the petition of advocate Zafar Ali Shah seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Shehbaz and Nawaz.

However, the bench after hearing the arguments “dismissed the petition in limine”.

The petitioner contended that Nawaz Sharif went abroad with the permission of the Lahore High Court (LHC) due to illness and his brother had submitted an affidavit that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Quaid would return after recovery but he did not return.

He prayed that Nawaz Sharif be labeled an “offender” and contempt of court proceedings may be initiated against both of them.

Zafar stated that the ex-PM left the country while he was on bail from the IHC and had been permitted to go abroad by the federal cabinet.

Earlier, the IHC office raised an objection regarding the maintainability of the petition. However, Justice Athar overruled the objection because the office is bereft of jurisdiction to object or adjudicate upon the question of maintainability of a constitutional petition filed under Article 199 of the Constitution.

He added, “The maintainability of a petition can only be determined on the judicial side by the High Court. The petition, therefore, shall be treated as numbered and the office is directed to process the numbering of the petition accordingly.”

During the hearing, in response to the Court’s query, the petitioner admitted that the petition wherein interim order, dated 16.11.2019 was passed is pending before the Lahore High Court (LHC). Zafar Ali also admitted that the name of respondent no2, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was removed from the Exit Control List pursuant to the decision of the federal cabinet subject to certain conditions.

The IHC bench observed, “Admittedly, the removal of the name from the Exit Control List was not pursuant to an order or direction passed by any Court. The conditions imposed by the federal cabinet were challenged before the Lahore High Court and they were suspended and modified vide an interim order, dated 16.11.2019.”

“It appears that the said order was never challenged either by the federal government nor the National Accountability Bureau and, therefore, it stood implemented,” maintained the court.

It noted that since the petition wherein interim order, dated 16.11.2019 was passed, is pending before the LHC, therefore, this Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the petition nor to grant the prayers sought therein.

The petitioner after arguing the matter at length stated that he does not press the petition so that he may approach the competent forum.

Therefore, the IHC bench dismissed the petition in limine.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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