Sunday, June 26, 2022

SC seeks names of cabinet members removed from ECL

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday sought details of the cabinet members whose names have been removed from the Exit Control List (ECL) by FIA, ARY News reported.

A five-member bench of the Supreme Court – headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial – and comprises Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar expressed concern over the removal of cabinet member names from the Exit Control List (ECL) while hearing a suo motu case on apprehensions that criminal justice might be undermined by people in positions of authority.

As the hearing went under way, Chief Justice Bandial observed that the names of those involved in corruption and tax theft of Rs10 million were removed from ECL.

CJP Umar Ata Bandial remarked, “For now, the court is not nullifying the decision regarding the amendments in ECL rules.”

The chief justice asked Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf to read section 2 of the ECL Rules, 2010, according to which terrorists, tax defaulters and loan defaulters cannot travel out of the country.

“Did the federal cabinet give approval to ECL rules,” the CJP questioned.

To which, attorney general told apex court that he will present minutes of federal cabinet meeting before the court.

Justice Mazhar observed how amendments could be made to the ECL  rules by a minister to benefit himself.

The top court also sought a report on the method of amendments in the ECL rules and summoned Federal Investigation Agency’s Law Director Usman Gondal.

Later, the court adjourned the hearing for an indefinite period.

In a previous hearing, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) submitted a report to the Supreme Court (SC) regarding the alleged interference of the government’s personalities in high-profile cases related to the criminal justice system.

READ: AFTER SC ORDER, NAB CHAIRMAN BANS TRANSFERS, POSTINGS

In its report, the FIA stated that no government institution including the interior ministry tried to interfere in the independent prosecution of the high-profile case being heard in different courts.

It stated that Farooq Bajwa had been appointed as the prosecutor at the request of the FIA. It added that the names of the suspects are put on the exit control list (ECL) on the recommendations of the government, courts and other institutions.

Suo motu

On May 19, the Supreme Court had barred the government from the transfer of investigation officers in high-profile cases of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial issued the directives in a suo motu notice which he took against the perceived interference of the government office-bearers in the criminal justice system of the country.

The apex court also issued notice to the interior secretary, director-general FIA, chairman NAB, prosecutors, advocate generals, and head of the prosecution departments. The Supreme Court also sought details of the names included and withdrawn from the no-fly list recently.

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