The federal government has withdrawn its petition filed before the Supreme Court against the Lahore High Court (LHC) decision allowing Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif to go abroad.

The LHC had granted “one-time” permission to Shehbaz Sharif to go abroad on medical grounds, and the government moved the Supreme Court against the order.

The PML-N president was allowed to leave the country by the LHC on May 7, and on the same day he had filed an application seeking to remove his name from the blacklist.

On May 17, the government put his name on the Exit Control List (ECL) while also moving the apex court against the LHC order.

The two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, observed that prima facie, the government appeared to be in contempt of the LHC’s decision.

The LHC’s registrar presented the record of the case before the bench, informing it that the case was heard in one day after the reservations pertaining to Sharif leaving the country were dismissed.

“Was Shahbaz’s case heard as per the usual system or through a special process?” asked Justice Ahsan.

The registrar answered that the high court decided to hear the government’s reservations and Sharif’s petition the same day.

“On Friday, 9:30am, the reservations were raised and proceedings into the case began at 11:00am the same day,” explained the registrar.

Justice Ahsan remarked that the government’s attorney was provided only 30 mins to seek instructions. “How many hearings were held, in the past one year, on Fridays at 12:00pm?” asked the judge.

The judge remarked that the LHC had not even inquired as to which list Sharif’s name had been included to.

“In how many other cases was one-sided relief provided?” he asked.

Later, the government decided to withdraw its appeal against the LHC’s decision after Shehbaz lawyer assured the apex court he would not pursue contempt of court proceedings against institutions for not letting him go abroad.

“The manner in which Shehbaz was provided relief in this case cannot become a precedent.” opined the court.

“How can the movement of a suspect in an ongoing criminal case be restricted?” asked Justice Sajjad Ali Shah. He added that the government’s position had been heard by the LHC.

The attorney general informed the court that the government had not made any accusations in its appeal against the LHC’s verdict. He expressed concern that the LHC’s decision would set a precedence for future cases as well.

After the LHC verdict was announced last month, the PML-N president went to the airport to travel abroad but was not allowed to board the plane by immigration authorities.


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