The Lahore High Court will hear tomorrow (Tuesday) the petition of PML-N vice-president Mayram Nawaz seeking return of her passport.
A LHC three-member full bench headed by Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti and comprising Justice Ali Baqir Najfi and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh will take up the matter. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is due to submit its reply before the court in compliance with the previous order given by the full bench headed by Chief Justice Bhatti. Previously, Advocate Amjad Pervaiz appeared before the court as counsel for the petitioner and argued that the main case against his client had still been pending for the last couple of years while reference in Chaudhry Sugar Mills case was yet to be filed before the relevant court.
Giving reference to the judgement of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) , the counsel argued that the NAB itself had said that the name of the accused could not be placed on Exit Control List (ECL) at this stage. The counsel also contended that Maryam Nawaz had surrendered her passport as a surety and guarantee of herself before the court. The counsel also submitted that on August 8, 2019, when Maryam Nawaz was visiting her father at the Central Jail Lahore, she was arrested in an inquiry initiated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and was barred from completing her visit.
The petitioner’s counsel stated that her physical custody was remanded to an investigating officer for 48 days after being sent to judicial lockup and later she was allowed post-arrest bail on merits by the Lahore High Court. The petitioner also informed the court that she had surrendered her passport and deposited the required amount of Rs70 million. He contended that she was unable to exercise her fundamental rights for the last four years despite the absence of any charge sheet or trial and she obeyed the court orders.
“There may not be any apprehension of abscondance or otherwise in view of the track record of the petitioner who, notwithstanding a conviction order against her, voluntarily came back to Pakistan to surrender to the process of law while leaving behind her ailing mother on death bed,” argued Advocate Pervaiz. He said that it was settled principle of administration of criminal justice system and also fundamental rights due process and fair trial guaranteed, vide Article 10-A of the constitution, a presumption of innocence was imperative and even under trial [the] accused did not lose fundamental rights. The petitioner asked the court to direct the officials concerned to return her passport.
Earlier, a LHC division was dissolved after Justice Anwaarul Haq Pannu, a member of the same bench, recused himself from hearing of Maryam Nawaz’s plea for personal reasons. The petition was sent to Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti who later constituted a full bench to hear the matter. It was the fourth time since April the LHC bench was dissolved. Ms Nawaz had surrendered her passport before the LHC in compliance with the court orders after she was granted post-arrest bail in Chaudhry Sugar Mills Limited (SCML) case.
Formed in April, the first division bench led by Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi sent the petition to the Chief Justice, refusing to hear it, recommending it should be fixed before any other bench. Justice Anawaarul Haq Pannu was another member of the bench. On it, the CJ sent the petition to another division bench comprising Justice Ali Baqir Najfi and Justice Farooq Haider. The latter, however, refused to hear the plea for personal reasons, leading to the bench dissolution for the second time.
Justice Ali Baqir Najfi and Justice Asjad Javed Ghural were the members of the third division bench. But this time Justice Ghural recused himself, citing personal reasons. Last time, it was the LHC division bench comprising Justice Ali Baqir Najfi and Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem which was hearing her case but Maryam Nawaz through her counsel withdrew the petition, pleading that she would make her submission through another petition. Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem later retired. Previously, she made a plea that she wanted one-time permission for six weeks to perform Umrah in Saudi Arabia. In her fresh petition filed before the fifth bench, she made a plea for return of passport on humanitarian grounds.