Shahbaz Sharif's release hindered amid disagreement between judges

A two-judge bench of Lahore High Court on Wednesday, April 14 granted bail to the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif but later it was found that the decision has not been signed by a judge of the bench.

The matter came to light when a two-judge bench headed by Justice Sarfraz Dogar and Asjad Javed Ghural reserved judgment on April 14 after hearing the bail application.

As usual, the Court Associate came out of the Judges' Chamber and ruled that the bail of Shahbaz Sharif has been granted in exchange for two sureties of Rs 50, 50 lakhs, after which the PML-N leaders present in the court congratulated each other and left the court with lawyers.

However, the bail orders were not issued and the bench was broken during the week.

The Chief Justice of Lahore High Court constituted a new bench and the written verdict could not be issued as Justice Asjad Javed Gharal did not sign the verdict which was also confirmed by the Registrar's Office of the High Court.

An official of the Registrar's Office, Lahore High Court, told local media that it is a common tradition that when the judges go to their chambers after the verdict is reserved, the associate (employee) court of the same court come and announces the verdict which is told to him by the judges from the chamber.

In his view, this is the first time that the verdict of both the judges of the bench has been announced but the judgement has not been signed. Usually, after the verdict is pronounced, the judges sign a detailed or short order and issue it then after which release orders are issued in bail cases.

Justice Asjad Javed Gharal has been shifted to Bahawalpur Bench while Justice Sarfraz Dogar has been shifted to Multan Bench. A new bench comprising Justice Alia Neelam and Justice Farooq Haider has been constituted to hear accountability cases.

According to the official, the matter of Shahbaz Sharif's bail application will now go to the referee judge or a new bench, which will decide the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court.

He added that no written order has been issued yet regarding the bail decision, in which case the two judges can now write a separate decision.

Shahbaz Sharif's lawyer Azam Nazir Tarar said that as usual, he went to the court to take a written decision on Shahbaz Sharif's bail, then he found that the decision of the judges was not signed due to disagreement and release orders were not issued.

He said that this was the first case of its kind in which after the verdict was pronounced, two judges disagreed on verdict.

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