Pak SC turns down Sharif’s appeal for early hearing in graft case

ISLAMABAD, Mar 5: Pakistan’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal filed on behalf of ousted former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for an early hearing of his petition seeking bail on medical grounds and to have his sentence suspended in the Al-Azizia corruption case.
The apex court said on Monday that the case against the Islamabad High Court’s verdict will be heard when its turn comes.
Sharif, 69, was on December 24 last year sentenced to seven years in prison by an anti-corruption court in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case for owning a steel factory abroad without disclosing its ownership.
On Friday, senior counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed filed an appeal before the Supreme Court on behalf of the former premier, asking the apex court to grant him bail after suspending the seven-year sentence, the Dawn newspaper reported.
But the Supreme Court Registrar Office returned the application for early hearing on the grounds that no special treatment could be accorded and the routine procedure would be followed to take up the matter, it said.
Sharif had filed an appeal in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to suspend his sentence in the Al-Azizia case until the final verdict on his appeal is announced. However, the court rejected his plea on February 25.
He had requested bail on the grounds that his health was deteriorating in jail.
The IHC in its order had held that none of the medical reports about Sharif’s condition suggested that his continued incarceration would in any way be detrimental to his life, adding that he had been hospitalised time and again since January whenever he made complaints about his indisposition.
Sharif has challenged this verdict in the Supreme Court and filed a separate petition for a quick hearing on March 6.
His appeal contends that the IHC order was in violation of his fundamental right to life as guaranteed by the Constitution.
The former premier is currently incarcerated at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore where he is serving the seven-year sentence. Sharif resigned as Pakistan prime minister in 2017 after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding public office and ruled that graft cases be filed against the beleaguered leader and his children over the Panama Papers scandal. Sharif has denied any wrongdoing and says the charges are political motivated.
His supporters believe the real reason he was convicted was because he had fallen out with the country’s powerful army. (PTI)