LAHORE    -   A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday granted bail to former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on medical grounds in Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSM) case.

The bail petition had been filed on Thursday by Shehbaz Sharif for the release of his elder brother from the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for his treatment.

The bench directed the petitioner for furnishing two surety bonds worth Rs10 million each to avail the relief. The bench consisting of Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem heard the post-arrest bail petition.

Although the former prime minister was granted bail in Chaudhry Sugar Mills case, he cannot not be released until Islamabad High Court decides a petition seeking suspension of his sentence, and release on bail, in the Al-Azizia case. The IHC will hear that petition on Tuesday.

During the hearing at the LHC on Friday, Advocate General Punjab Ahmad Jamal Sukhera apprised the court that Nawaz Sharif was being given medical treatment as per international practices and he could not travel abroad in the current health condition.

NAB prosecutor submitted that it would have to be determined whether Nawaz could be treated in the country or not, saying that the life of everyone was precious.

Prof Dr Ayaz Mehmood, head of the medical board constituted for treatment of the former premier, submitted that initially the board consisted of six doctors but later four more members were added including personal physician of Nawaz Sharif. He submitted that the board visited the ex-PM thrice a day and also held meetings regarding the treatment procedure.

Prof Ayaz said that Nawaz Sharif was suffering from multiple diseases including diabetics, hypertension and heart complications with low platelet count. He said the board had yet not been able to diagnose the reason for his recent deterioration of health; however, dengue and several other possible causes had been ruled out after the medical tests.

“Although the body [of Nawaz] is generating platelet, they are being destroyed,” he said. He further submitted that Nawaz Sharif had lost 5kg weight during the past two to three months.

A day earlier it was reported that the medical board had diagnosed the reason for Nawaz’s deteriorating health. A board member was quoted as saying, “It is acute immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a bleeding disorder, in which the immune system destroys platelets. We are hopeful that his condition will improve in a few days.”

When asked, the board head told the court on Friday that further tests were required for diagnosing the problem but those could not be done due to low platelets count.

Representing the petitioner, Advocate Ashtar Ausaf Ali submitted that Nawaz Sharif’s condition was critical as per the statement made by the board head.

The bench then adjourned the hearing till 12:30pm and asked the board head to file a fresh report after holding a board meeting.

When the bench resumed hearing, Dr Ayaz submitted the medical report and informed the bench about the medical history of Nawaz Sharif.

He submitted that Nawaz’s condition was critical while low platelets count had made it more serious. He maintained that the diagnosis was still inconclusive and they were unable to perform further tests immediately due to low platelets count.

Dr Ayaz maintained that Nawaz also experienced pain in his chest last night and he was given necessary medication. About Nawaz’s ability to travel abroad, the medical expert said that he could travel abroad only if his platelets count was more than 50,000.

Following the submission of medial report and expert opinion, the bench remarked that Nawaz Sharif’s condition was serious and asked the NAB prosecutor whether he opposed the bail plea.

The NAB official replied that if the treatment was possible in Pakistan then there was no need to send the patient abroad but if the treatment was not possible here, there was no other option.

Later, Advocate Khawaja Adnan submitted, on behalf of the petitioner, that bail be granted to Nawaz Sharif on medical grounds. In his submission’s support, he referred to various judgements of the apex court. He said the court had granted bail to many accused on medical grounds even in murder cases.

Advocate Ausaf Ali submitted that Nawaz Sharif’s condition was unstable so he had to be treated very carefully. He said that it would be a violation of his client’s fundamental rights if prosecution was allowed to keep him in custody. He further submitted that Nawaz Sharif be allowed to get medical treatment of his choice as it was his right.

Justice Ali Baqar Najafi then asked a federal law officer whether the names of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz were on the no-fly list and adjourned the hearing for 10 minutes. Afterwards, the law officer informed the bench that their names were on the exit control list (ECL).

NAB official said that the bureau had filed an application for extension in physical remand of Nawaz in trial court but it was pending and no decision had been made.

After hearing the arguments, the court allowed the petition and granted bail to Nawaz Sharif.

Following the grant of bail to Nawaz, NAB said it did not oppose the bail plea of former prime minister on medical and humanitarian grounds. A NAB spokesman said this while clarifying a news item reported by a section of media.

IHC hearing

A division bench of Islamabad High Court consisting of Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhter Kiyani conducted the hearing on the petition seeking suspension of imprisonment sentence of Nawaz Sharif in Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference.

This petition, which also seeks ex-PM’s release on bail on medical grounds, has also been filed by PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif.

The IHC adjourned the hearing for Tuesday while seeking detailed medical report of the former prime minister by that time.

Nawaz will therefore not be released at least until Tuesday, though he is set to be released from NAB custody after the grant of bail in sugar mills case by the LHC.

Maryam’s petition in LHC

Maryam Nawaz has also filed a petition for her bail on humanitarian grounds in the sugar mills case. Hearing her plea, the court the other day issued a notice to NAB for filing a reply.

On Friday, the NAB sought time to file the reply. Granting time, the court directed the accountability watchdog to submit it by Monday and adjourned the hearing.