IHC rejects petition to stop govt from issuing Nawaz passport

Says cases can’t be decided on basis of press reports

The Islamabad High Court has dismissed a petition requesting the court to stop the federal government from issuing diplomatic passport to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

On April 15, Advocate Naeem Haider filed an application in which he named Nawaz Sharif, interior secretary and foreign secretary as respondents.

The petitioner said that the government plans to issue diplomatic passport to Nawaz Sharif, a convict and an absconder. The court should restrain the government from doing that, the petitioner said.

Haider, however, could not show any order, direction or notification issued by the federal government.

At a hearing on Monday, Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked "It is noted that no evidentiary value was attached to the press reports and no reliance can be placed on it when a person claims a legal right on its basis. It was settled law that courts will not decide cases on the basis of press reports."

The judge said the court had no reason to doubt that the government would act or pass an order which may be in derogation to the principles and law.

The court said, moreover, the petition was based on unreliable material. Therefore, the application was declared frivolous.

The petitioner was asked to pay a fine of Rs5,000.

Background

After the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and Nawaz’s younger brother Shehbaz Sharif was elected the prime minister, there were media reports that the Ministry of Interior has been directed to renew the passports of Nawaz Sharif and his brother-in-law Ishaq Dar.

Nawaz Sharif’s passport expired in February this year and the government refused to renew his passport. Then interior minister Sheikh Rasheed said if Nawaz wants to come to Pakistan, then he must submit a request, and then emergency travel documents will be issued to him.

Nawaz Sharif departed for London in November 2019 after being released from jail on the account of his deteriorating health.

He was to undergo multiple surgeries at London’s hospitals, but the procedures were postponed. Now his medical experts say his condition is well and he can travel.

He was sentenced to seven and 10 years in prison in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Avenfield flats references. The former premier’s sentence in the Al-Azizia reference was suspended. He has filed an appeal seeking its annulment.

NAB has filed appeals to increase his sentence to 14 years in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case. It seeks an end to the suspension of Nawaz’s sentence in the Avenfield case too.

In October 2019, the IHC had granted Nawaz bail on humanitarian grounds and allowed him to travel to London. His bail expired in February. Last month, the IHC issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Nawaz. But the warrants were not received by the ex-premier.

Nawaz Sharif

diplomatic passport

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