CJP asks how beneficiaries can amend ECL rules

Stresses following standard procedure during trial of high-profile suspects : Vows not to let investigation agencies cross their limits: FIA submits report in SC about ECL exclusions

By: News Desk
Published: 02:23 PM, 14 Jun, 2022
CJP asks how beneficiaries can amend ECL rules
Caption: File photo.
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Expressing surprise as how those in power could amend the Exit Control List (ECL) rules when those amendments benefitted them, the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ordered those whose names were on the ECL to first seek permission from the Ministry of Interior before they go abroad, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

During the hearing of a suo motu notice of ‘perceived interference’ by the government in the working of investigation agencies by a five-member bench of the SC, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial also made an observation that the point to be noted was that those in power had actually benefitted from these amendments. 

The attorney general of Pakistan (AGP) assured the court that every person, whose name was on the ECL, would first seek the ministry’s nod before going abroad. 

The CJP stressed that there should be no compromise on the standard procedure set for the prosecution of suspects. “Today, there is a unique situation in the country as the majority party is out of the parliament, and the country is in economic crisis,” he said, adding, “In these circumstances, the executive will have to exercise its powers with caution and in the light of the constitution.” 

Justice Bandial stated categorically that the apex court would not allow any investigation agency to go beyond its limits.

Additional Attorney General (AAG), on the occasion, told the court that the cabinet committee, in its meeting yesterday, had discussed all the questions raised and observations made by the SC about the ECL rules in detail. 

When Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar asked him as where were the minutes of the committee’s meeting, he replied that he would provide to the court the minutes in a day or two. 

AAG informed the court that the committee had now directed the AGP to attend its next meeting. “The AGP’s office has sent the standard operating procedures (SOPs) related to amendments in the ECL rules to all the concerned department,” he said, and added that the cases of all the individuals whose names had been removed from the no-fly list would now be separately reviewed.    

Earlier, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) submitted to the SC a report in which it was revealed that the names of 14 high-profile suspects, including those of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz, had been deleted from the Exit Control List (ECL).  

The report disclosed that one of the suspects namely Ijaz Haroon, who had gone abroad following his name was removed from the no-fly list, had not returned as yet. 

Taking suo motu notice of ‘perceived interference in the independence of prosecution branch in the performance of its powers and duties’ on May 18, 2022, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial had constituted a five-member larger bench to take up the case for the hearing the following day, May 19, 2002. 

Reporter: Amanat Gishkori