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Thursday, February 22, 2024  
11 Shaban 1445  

People in power benefited form changes to ECL rules: CJP Bandial

Supreme Court directs govt to ensure people on ECL do not travel abroad without the Ministry of Interior's permission
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that this was not an opportunity for anyone to take advantage. File photo
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that this was not an opportunity for anyone to take advantage. File photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ordered the federal government on Tuesday not to allow people on the no-fly list to travel abroad without the approval of the interior ministry.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial gave the order during the hearing of the suo motu case on the perceived interference of the government in prosecution that led to undermining the criminal justice system.

The court during Tuesday’s hearing remarked that people in authority benefited from the amendments made in the rules of the Exit Control List (ECL). The names of at least 100 individuals, including those of PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif were removed from the list following the amendments.

Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman informed the court today that a meeting of all stakeholders was held in the office of the attorney general after the previous hearing.

Upon this, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar inquired about the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet committee. The additional attorney general replied that the said meeting of the was held a day earlier and that the minutes of the meeting could be received in a day or two.

“The standard operating procedures (SOP) related to the amendment in the rules have been prepared and sent to all the relevant authorities,” the additional attorney general replied, adding that all the names removed from the list were being reviewed separately.

Justice Ejaz-ul-Ahsan inquired about the amendment or the names to be removed from the list. The additional attorney general replied that the amendments would be made after consultation with the National Accountability Bureau and the Federal Investigation Agency.

“How can those who are beneficiaries amend the rules,” inquired the chief justice.

He then directed the federal government to ensure that people on teh no-fly list are not allowed to travel abroad without the permission from the interior ministry.

Assuring implementation, the attorney general said that the individuals concerned would seek permission from the interior ministry before traveling abroad, adding that the transitional procedure would continue till legislation was enacted.

“We want the rule of law. The important question is whether the people in power have benefited from the amendment to the ECL rules,” the chief justice remarked, adding that there should be no compromise on the procedure for those whose cases were pending. The chief justice had reprimanded the government for amending the ECL rules in an earlier hearing as well.

Justice Bandial said that the country was in the midst of an economic crisis. “The court does not want to give such an order which will cause problems to the government,” he added.

Justice Ahsan asked whether the Cabinet had approved the ECL rules. The additional attorney general said that the matter was under consideration in the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.

The chief justice remarked that in order to make the system work, everyone had to work together. “Legislation from the unilateral parliament should also be in accordance with the legal requirements,” he added.

“This is not an opportunity for anyone to take advantage.”

The court adjourned the hearing till June 27 and directed to present the minutes of the cabinet committee meeting in the next hearing.

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Suo Moto

ECL rules

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