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The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday sought new medical report of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while hearing his petition seeking bail and suspension of sentence in Al-Azizia reference case on medical grounds.
A division bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard Sharif's petition moved through his counsel Khawaja Haris and deferred the hearing till February 20 for further proceedings.
During the hearing, Justice Farooq said that there are contradictions in the medical reports submitted to the court so far about Sharif's illness, adding two different terminologies were used in the reports which give a different perception.
"Has the hospital issued an official report on Sharif's [health] condition?", Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani asked. On this, an official of the Punjab government claimed that Sharif has been shifted to a hospital in Lahore on the recommendation of the medical board where medical tests of Sharif are being conducted.
"On whose directives, the medical board was formed," questioned Justice Kiyani. The official said that in case of any minor problem to the prisoner, the jail superintendent directs the jail doctor for his treatment. However, the case is referred to the provincial government in case the prisoner is having any serious health issue.
Haris, the counsel for the Sharif said that he has not got a chance to meet his client due to which he has some reservations, adding issues pertaining to heart problems are treated at Punjab Institute of Cardiology, but his client has been shifted to Jinnah Hospital which is not a special cardiology hospice.
When the court asked about the tests reports of the imprisoned former prime minister, the provincial government official responded that he was not sure when the hospital would release the test reports of the prisoner.
He added that Nawaz was shifted to the hospital on February 15-as it is his fundamental rights-where medics are treating him. "Whatever the medics would suggest, we'll implement it," he added.
He said that the ward of Jinnah Hospital has been declared a sub-jail, and the notification in this regard was presented before the court.
Khawaja Haris said that his client's condition can deteriorate in the jail; hence they request suspension of sentence on medical grounds. The bench said that the decision will be taken on the basis of merit and adjourned the hearing till February 20.
Meanwhile the court also deferred hearing of appeals against the Al-Azizia and Flagship references till April 2. Previously, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had submitted its reply in this matter and opposed the former prime minister's bail on medical grounds. The NAB had adopted in its reply, "The instant Constitution petition 352 of 2019 is the second Constitution petition on similar and identical subject matter between the same parties with identical prayer of relief and the same is, therefore, not maintainable and competent and liable to be dismissed with exemplary costs."
In his bail petition, the former prime minister has sought suspension of seven-year sentence awarded to him by accountability court Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metals Establishment case and his release on medical grounds.
Sharif made the chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the accountability judge and the superintendent of Kot Lakhpat Jail as respondents.
According to the petition, under Section 342 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the former prime minister has refuted all allegations levelled against him and taken a categorical stance that the prosecution has miserably failed to discharge the onus placed on it to prove any of the allegations contained in the charges framed against him.
The petition said that Sharif has felt pain in both his arms and numbness of toes. Given his medical history, the matter was reported to the jail superintendent who referred him for medical examination to the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Lahore, and the Allama Iqbal Medical College/Jinnah Hospital, Lahore.
It added that a special medical board was separately constituted to evaluate the health condition of the petitioner. Though the medical examination of the petitioner was conducted by each of the special medical boards on January 16 and a preliminary report, in the case of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Lahore, and a final report, in the case of the Allama Iqbal Medical College, was prepared on January 16 and 17, respectively, none of these reports, or the results of the lab tests on which the same are based, were shared by the respective board or their heads with the petitioner or his personal physician till January 22 while final report of PIC, Lahore, was made available on January 24.
It maintained, "In the light of the findings given and recommendations made by the two Special Medical Boards in their respective reports as reproduced in the foregoing paragraphs, the petitioner prays for the suspension of his sentence and release on bail pending final decision of his appeal on purely medical grounds as a case of extreme hardship."
Sharif said that the petitioner is ready and willing to furnish the surety bonds to the entire satisfaction of this court, and undertakes to appear before this court on each and every date of hearing fixed in appeal filed by him.
Therefore, he prayed to the court that during pendency of the appeal filed by him against the judgment dated December 24, 2018, this court may suspend the execution of the sentences passed against him and he be released on bail.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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