IHC stays Cynthia Ritchie’s expulsion

IHC CJ says visa is a privilege, not a right

By: News Desk      Published: 11:49 AM, 7 Sep, 2020
IHC stays Cynthia Ritchie’s expulsion

The IHC (Islamabad High Court) on Monday stayed the orders to expel US national Cynthia Ritchie within 15 days and sought reply from the interior ministry, FIA and others while issuing notices to them, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

As IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the matter, the American blogger and writer appeared before the court along with her counsel Imran Feroze.

During the hearing, the petitioner’s counsel argued that the reason to reject the visa extension application were not cited. However, the chief justice remarked that it wasn’t necessary as many visa requests of many citizens were refused daily.

Also, the counsel questioned under which law the application was rejected. But the chief justice again observed that there was no need of any law for rejection.

He observed that visa was a privilege, not a right. The right to freedom of expression too wasn’t unlimited with the limited defined by the Constitution, noted the chief justice.

When the court asked whether they have any complaints other than the visa, the counsel said that two applications were pending with the FIA.

Later, the court adjourned further hearing while directing the petitioner to submit all the complaints on an affidavit.

Earlier on Saturday, Cynthia had moved the IHC against the rejection of her application regarding extending visa and the orders to leave the country within 15 days.

The controversial US national, who is always in headlines because of her contentious commentary on Pakistan’s politics, in her petition nominated the interior ministry secretary and deputy secretary as well as the FIA director-general.

She argued that the application for visa extension had been rejected despite fulfilling all the legal requirements. The government orders were a violation of general clause act and visa policy, she maintained.

On Wednesday, the interior ministry had rejected her visa extension application with a directive to leave the country within 15 days.

Later, Cynthia had alleged that the interior ministry was full of the PPP and PML-N supporters who caused trouble for anyone supportive of PTI.

Meanwhile, the interior ministry had earlier admitted that the visas issued to Cynthia in 2018 and 2019 were in violation of the policy.

In a report submitted before the Islamabad High Court in the Cynthia Ritchie case, it was stated that the US blogger applied for extension in her stay under work visa category but she was issued extension under business visa category in violation of the policy.

It said the supporting documents qualifying as legal requirements for issuance of extension under business visa category were not met because her applications on both occasions were for extension in her stay in Pakistan under work visa category.

The ministry also noted that the US national should be stopped from making controversial statements that went against the basic rights of citizens.