Islamabad HC dismisses contempt of court plea against Pakistan PM Shahbaz Sharif, brother Nawaz

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court on Monday dismissed a petition seeking contempt of court proceedings against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif regarding the return of his elder brother Nawaz Sharif, local media reported.
The petitioner, Lawyer Syed Zafar Ali Shah invoked the jurisdiction of IHC under Article 199 of the Constitution to file the petition, but the registrar’s office raised an objection about its maintainability, Dawn reported.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah took up the proceedings and overruled the objection. He observed that it was bereft of jurisdiction to object or adjudicate upon the question of maintainability of a constitutional petition filed under Article 199.
The court also observed that the maintainability of a petition could only be determined by the court itself, Dawn reported.
The petitioner filed the petition in the IHC in which he stated that Nawaz Sharif went abroad with the permission of the Lahore High Court (LHC) due to illness and Shahbaz Sharif submitted an affidavit that his brother (Nawaz Sharif) would return after recovery but his brother did not return.
It was requested that Nawaz Sharif be declared a proclaimed offender by various courts, contempt of court proceedings should be initiated against Shahbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif and the court should issue orders for the return of Nawaz Sharif.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his brother Nawaz Sharif, the Federal Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were made parties in the petition, as per the publication.
During the proceedings, the IHC CJI in the order mentioned that his court could not take up the plea as it was already pending in the Lahore High Court (LHC).
In response to a court’s query, the petitioner Shah admitted that the petition wherein an interim order, dated Nov 16, 2019, had been passed, was pending with the Lahore High Court. He further admitted that the name of Nawaz Sharif was removed from the Exit Control List under a decision of the federal cabinet subject to certain conditions, Dawn reported.
“The petitioner has been heard at length. In response to the court’s query, he has admitted that the petition wherein interim order was passed is pending before the learned Lahore High Court,” the order read.
The order mentioned that the petitioner also admitted that the name of Nawaz was removed from the Exit Control List (ECL) pursuant to the decision of the federal cabinet – subject to certain conditions. “…the removal of the name from the Exit Control List was not pursuant to an order or direction passed by any Court.”
“The conditions imposed by the Federal Cabinet were challenged before the learned Lahore High Court and they were suspended and modified vide an interim order, dated 16.11.2019. It appears that the said order was never challenged either by the Federal Government nor the National Accountability Bureau and, therefore, it stood implemented,” the order further read.
The petitioner, after arguing the matter at length, said he did not press the petition.
IHC CJ Minallah told the petitioner-lawyer Shah that he was not imposing a fine on him as he was a senior attorney.
The court dismissed the petition accordingly, Dawn reported.
Meanwhile, a Pakistan federal minister has claimed that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif would return to the country in September.
After Shahbaz Sharif, brother of Nawaz Sharif became the Prime Minister in April, PML-N leaders were hoping for their party leader’s early return, reported Dawn.
In 2018, an accountability court sentenced Nawaz to seven years in prison in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference, while he was also sentenced to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped a Pound 8 million fine (Rs 1.3 billion) in the Avenfield properties reference.
Subsequently, in 2019, the Lahore High Court (LHC) after suspending his sentence, allowed Nawaz to go abroad for medical treatment. He departed for London on November 19, 2019, and since then, he never returned to the country.
Sharif, who is in a self-imposed exile in London on medical grounds, will be looking to make a comeback as the PML-N government is considering relevant legislation to ease the former PM’s return.
The coalition government is looking to make relevant amendments that would help repeal the ban imposed on Sharif by a Supreme Court judgment in the Panama Papers case against him.

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