ISLAMABAD -  The Islamabad High Court Wednesday reserved its verdict in former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s petition seeking bail and suspension of his sentence in Al-Azizia reference on medical grounds.

A division bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani conducted hearing of Nawaz Sharif’s petition moved through his counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed and reserved the judgment after hearing the arguments of both sides.

During the hearing, Khawaja stated that the government is not taking Nawaz Sharif illness seriously. He prayed that Nawaz Sharif sentence be suspended on medical grounds.

The court asked that in which hospital the treatment could take place. Nawaz’s counsel responded that “before the treatment, Nawaz should be relieved from this [prison] mental burden”.

Justice Aamer remarked: “Nawaz is not in jail right now but in the hospital.”  The defence counsel said that the atmosphere of a sub-jail also causes anxiety and Nawaz should be relieved from this burden first.

NAB prosecutor Jehanzaib Bharwana also gave his arguments before the court saying that the medical board had stated that all medical facilities can be provided in the Jinnah Hospital and Services Hospital.

The NAB prosecutor maintained that Nawaz’s case does not fall under hardship or within any other legal loophole. He added that medical boards were formed on the government’s instruction.

Justice Kiyani during the hearing said that the government, therefore, prioritised Nawaz’s health.

Later, the court reserved the verdict which is likely to be announced in the next week.

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 No 352 of 2019 is the second Constitution petition on similar and identical subject matter between the same parties with identical prayer 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 Metal Establishment case and his release on medical grounds.

Sharif made the Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the accountability judge and the Kot Lakhpat jail’s superintendent as respondents.

According to the petition, under Section 342 of the criminal procedure code (CrPC), the former prime minister has refuted all allegations leveled 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. Although 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, 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.