Gulf Today

Confusion prevails over Shahbaz’s bail order

- Tariq Butt

ISLAMABAD: In the absence of a writen order due to difference­s between the two judges of the Lahore High Court (LHC), Pakistan Muslim League-nawaz (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif has not been released from jail although it had been announced at the end of the proceeding­s by the two justices that the opposition leader had been granted bail.

The LHC bench comprising Justice Sardar Mohammad Sarfraz Dogar and Justice Asjad Javed Ghural ater hearing the final arguments of National Accountabi­lity Bureau (NAB) prosecutor and Shahbaz’s counsel on April 14 had risen ater telling the parties that they would be informed about its decision shortly.

Some 15 minutes later a court staff member came out of the judges’ retiring room and disclosed the result to the parties, saying Shahbaz has been granted bail.

An official said Justice Dogar, who headed the bench, had signed a one-page short order and sent it to Justice Ghural for his signature, which was still pending. While there are reports that Justice Ghural dissented with the bail-granting order and kept the file with him to write his own decision, his staff said that they had no instructio­ns whatsoever about any change in the order.

However, the LHC website showed the result of Shahbaz’s petition as “allowed” meaning he has been granted bail.

His lawyer Azam Nazir Tarar said he had not been informed by the court if there was any change in the bail-granting order. He said the court’s staff rather gave an impression that a detailed verdict would be released instead of a short order. He said it would be unpreceden­ted if a member of the bench changed his decision ater an announceme­nt.

As per the new roster of the judges issued by Chief Justice Mohammad Qasim Khan for the week commencing on April 19, Justice Dogar and Justice Ghural have been transferre­d to Multan and Bahawalpur seats, respective­ly. A new division bench comprising Justice Alia Neelum and Justice Farooq Haider has been constitute­d to hear cases relating to NAB in Lahore.

Commenting on the situation, senior lawyer Zafar Iqbal Kalanauri said the mater would be sent to a referee judge if the division bench gave a split decision on the bail petition. Ater going through both conflictin­g decisions, the referee judge would give an opinion.

However, he said, it was premature to say anything when legally there existed no order, neither unanimous nor a dissenting one.

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