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LAHORE: A Lahore High Court (LHC) full bench on Monday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for a print media journalist, Cyril Almeida, over non-appearance in a petition seeking strict action against former prime ministers Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

The bench also ordered for placing Cyril's name on the Exit Control List (ECL) and directed the DIG operations to ensure his (Cyril's) appearance on the next date of hearing on Oct 8.

The bench, headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, passed the orders while hearing a petition filed by a civil society activist, Amina Malik.

At the outset of the proceedings, former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi appeared before the bench in response to bailable arrest warrants, issued by the bench on the last hearing.

Advocate Naseer Bhutta, on behalf of the former prime minister, submitted that his client appeared in response to the court directions and also sought apology over not appearing on the last hearing. He requested the court to exempt his client from personal appearance. At this, Justice Mazahar directed him for filing a civil miscellaneous application for the purpose.

However, the bench took serious note of Cyril Almeida's absence despite repeated notices and observed that it would issue non-bailable arrest warrants to ensure his presence in the court.

The judges asked Cyril's counsel to submit an affidavit that his client would appear on the next hearing; otherwise, the matter would be decided on merit.

To which, Cyril's counsel submitted that he could not guarantee that his client would appear on the next hearing.

Subsequently, the bench issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Cyril and ordered for placing his name on the ECL.

In response to a query about Nawaz Sharif's absence, Advocate Naseer Bhutta submitted that Nawaz Sharif was unable to come as people were visiting him to offer condolences over his wife Begum Kulsoom's demise.

However, he assured the bench that he (Nawaz) would appear on the next hearing. At this, the bench adjourned further hearing till Oct 8.

The petitioner had sought action against former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif for attempting to defame the state institutions, through alleged anti-state interviews, and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for not honouring his oath of office by disclosing the minutes of the National Security Council meeting to his party leader.

She submitted that Nawaz Sharif, on May 11, 2018, in his interview to an English language daily, gave a misleading statement about Mumbai attacks.

The petitioner said a meeting of the National Security Council was held to discuss the statement and after the meeting, the then prime minister Abbasi met Nawaz Sharif and conveyed him the concerns of the military leadership and the meeting's minutes.

She said the act of Abbasi was a clear violation of his oath as he was bound not to allow his personal interest to influence his official conduct.

She pleaded that Nawaz Sharif committed sedition by rejecting the statement of the National Security Council and was liable for an action as directed in the Constitution as well as in the Pakistan Penal Code.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2018