The Supreme Court on Thursday, while hearing PPP Karachi president Dr Asim Hussain's plea for permission to travel to the United Kingdom for 'medical treatment', expressed its surprise at the fact that 10 medical boards had so far examined the defendant.
A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, was hearing a case for the removal of Dr Hussain's name from the exit control list (ECL) and another petition from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) requesting the cancellation of his bail.
Special prosecutor for NAB Nasir Mughal told the court that as many as 10 medical boards have been constituted for Dr Hussain and while "all of the doctors" believe that Dr Hussain does not need surgery abroad, none of them are ready to testify against the PPP leader.
"Dr Hussain should not be given bail on the basis of medical concerns," Mughal insisted.
Mughal said he feared Dr Hussain would not return if he was allowed to go abroad. Referring indirectly to former president Pervez Musharraf, Mughal expressed his reservations saying: “one leader who went abroad on a wheelchair was later seen dancing”.
However, Dr Hussain's lawyer, Latif Khosa, contended that a dead man cannot be tried in court, arguing that: "They can only try the defendant if he remains alive."
He wondered how the state could be "this irresponsible towards a man's life".
Khosa said that the medical boards comprised senior doctors and were constituted on the court's orders, adding that whatever transpired in Dr Asim's case was no less than a nightmare for the defendant.
Justice Afzal commented that if a medical board was constituted for any given prisoner, diseases like "tension and depression would start show up during their investigation" as almost everyone suffers from them.
The judge also commented that on the one hand most prisoners are not even allowed access to medical facilities within the country, on the other hand 10 medical boards had examined Dr Hussain.
Justice Manzoor Malik also pointed out that NAB should have sped up Dr Hussain's trial keeping in mind his condition.
The hearing was adjourned until July 20.