Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif will be sent to a jail in the ‘Better Class’ category by virtue of being a former parliamentarian, but his daughter Maryam Nawaz can avail the facility only if she proves that she has paid at least Rs 600,000 as annual income tax, according to authorities.
Sharif and Maryam were convicted by a Pakistani court in the Avenfield Apartments reference and sentenced to 10 and 7 years in jail respectively.
The father-daughter duo will be arrested upon their arrival at the Lahore airport on Friday from London where they are looking after Sharif’s wife, Kulsoom Nawaz, who is suffering from throat cancer and has been on ventilator since June 14 after a cardiac arrest.
“Sharif will be sent to a jail in the ‘Better Class’ category by virtue of being a former parliamentarian, but Maryam can avail the facility only if she proves that she has paid at least Rs 600,000 as annual income tax,” Dawn reported, citing authorities.
They would have to submit an application requesting a Better Class jail, as it won’t automatically apply to them. Furthermore, the jails would not be furnished with an air-conditioner or a refrigerator.
“This is what the family can get under the law,” the paper quoted a senior official of the home department as saying.
“Capt (retd.) Muhammad Safdar, Sharif’s son-in-law, can also get a Better Class jail after submitting an application. He had not applied for it in writing by last evening and was therefore not given a jail in that category,” an official source was quoted as saying.
Officials said the British–era categories of A, B or C class jails in the Punjab province do not apply anymore. The classification was changed to Better Class and Ordinary Class through an amendment to the Punjab Jails Rules on a direction of the Lahore High Court few years ago.
Under the rules, 68-year-old Sharif can get a Better Class jail if he submits an application requesting it. However, the rules do not provide additional privilege to any former or serving president, prime minister or chief minister.
Since Maryam is neither a former nor serving gazetted military or civil officer, like her husband, or a sitting or former parliamentarian, like her father, she can claim Better Class only if she proves, with documents, that she has paid at least an annual income tax of Rs 600,000, the paper said.
The Better Class jails have limited facilities. Those availing the option are entitled to books and newspapers, a 21-inch television, a table and a chair, a mattress, personal bedding and clothing and food. The prisoners have to pay for all this themselves. The government is only obligated to provide them security in a high-security ward where they will be kept away from other prisoners.
According to the legal procedure, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) will have to produce Sharif and Maryam before the accountability judge who had convicted them. The judge will then give the NAB a warrant of contract, which would carry details of the punishment given to them and directions to the jail superintendent to take them into custody, the paper said.
Officials said it is the judge who decides which prison the convicts will be kept in initially. But Sharif and his daughter are likely to be confined to Adiala Jail, because it has a secluded high-security ward.