The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) told the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz’s passport was not required.
A three-member bench headed by LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti was hearing the PML-N leader’s petition seeking return of her passport, which she had surrendered before the LHC’s deputy registrar (judicial) after she received post-arrest bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSML) case.
As the proceedings commenced, a junior lawyer appeared on the rostrum and informed the court that senior lawyer Amjad Pervaiz was in another court and will just be reaching this court within a few minutes. He requested the court to halt proceedings temporarily.
However, CJ Bhatti chastised the absence of Amjad Pervaiz and questioned if the lawyer was unaware of which bench was larger and where he had to appear.
“Has he learnt this through his practice? This way is not acceptable, neither is it admirable,” Justice Bhatti said.
The case was adjourned by one week. As the judges left, counsel Amjad Pervaiz entered the courtroom.
It is pertinent to note that the PML-N leader’s efforts to be returned her passport have seen a protracted legal battle as all benches that were assigned the petition to date had to be dissolved after a number of judges recused themselves from the case owing to various reasons.
Now a fresh full bench will take up the case after a two-member bench sent the petition to the chief justice as one of its members recused himself from the matter.
Earlier this year, three judges had refused to hear Maryam’s petition seeking her passport to travel to Saudi Arabia and perform Umrah.
The bench, headed by Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi, had observed that the matter should be heard by the relevant bench that had already heard it and granted her post-arrest bail.
Later, another division bench headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi heard the plea. As the proceedings commenced, Justice Najafi announced that his colleague Justice Farooq Haider was not willing to hear the case owing to reasons best known to the judge.
The case file was then sent to Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti with a request to place this matter before any bench.
Following this, another bench led by Justice Najafi heard the matter, but Justice Asjad Javed Ghural recused himself to hear the case. It was then again sent to the LHC chief justice to be placed before another bench.
The petition was later withdrawn by the petitioner.
This month, the PML-N leader once again approached the high court for being returned her passport.
Through a fresh civil miscellaneous filed with her pending writ petition, Maryam contended that “as per record, the inquiry was initiated on November 14, 2018, but no reference has been filed against the petitioner as of today despite a lapse of about four years.”
The PML-N leader maintained that “the retention of the passport for an indefinite period is tantamount to be violative of her fundamental rights of treatment in accordance with the law, life, liberty, right of movement and equal protection of the law”.
It added that as per the “settled principles of administration of criminal justice system as also fundamental rights due process and fair trial guaranteed, vide Article 10-A of the constitution, a presumption of innocence is imperative and even under trial [the] accused does not lose fundamental rights of treatment”.