Pakistan: IHC dismisses contempt plea against PM Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif

The court order led to the removal of the ex-PM's name from the Exit Control List (ECL)



Photo: APP
Photo: APP

By APP

Published: Tue 30 Aug 2022, 11:43 AM

On Monday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) dismissed a contempt of court petition against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, with regard to the return of the latter to Pakistan.

The IHC, in its order, stated the admission that the name of respondent Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was removed from the Exit Control List (ECL), pursuant to the decision of the Federal Cabinet (subject to certain conditions).

Admittedly, the removal of the name from the ECL was not pursuant to an order or direction passed by any court, it added.

The order said that the conditions imposed by the Federal Cabinet were challenged before the LHC (Lahore High Court), and they were suspended and modified vide an interim order, dated November 16, 2019.

"It appears that the said order was never challenged, either by the Federal Government nor the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and, therefore, it stood implemented," the IHC observed.

It noted that "since the petition wherein interim order, dated 16.11.2019 was passed, is pending before LHC, therefore, this court has no jurisdiction to entertain the petition in hand nor to grant the prayers sought therein".

"The petitioner after arguing the matter at length has stated that he does not press the petition so that he may approach the competent forum," it added, and dismissed the petition.

Earlier, Chief Justice Athar Minallah, who took up the petition for hearing along with the objections raised by the Registrar Office, questioned how the court could proceed with contempt of court on the petition (which had not yet been decided) and the interim order (which had not been challenged).

Petitioner Zafar Ali Shah Advocate, in his petition, had adopted the stance that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had gone abroad with the LHC's permission, while his brother Shehbaz Sharif had submitted an affidavit to guarantee his return. The former prime minister had been declared an absconder in many cases by the courts, Shah added.

He moved the court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against PM Shehbaz Sharif and his brother Nawaz Sharif, and also issue orders for the latter's return to the country.

The chief justice remarked that the then-government did not approach the court where the relevant appeals were pending.

The lawyer said a writ was filed to the LHC on which an order was passed. The court said that it was an interim order, after which the petition was still pending.

The chief justice said:

"We will have dismissed this petition with an exemplary fine, but you are a senior lawyer, so we are not going in that direction."

After this, the court reserved its decision on the maintainability of the case and later dismissed the same.

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