ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday requested information on cabinet members whose names were removed off the Exit Control List (ECL) by the FIA.
While hearing a suo motu case on concerns that criminal justice might be undermined by people in positions of authority, a five-member Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and including 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.
As the hearing proceeded, Chief Justice Bandial noted that the names of individuals involved in corruption and Rs10 million in tax theft had been taken off the ECL.
“For the time being, the court is not nullifying the order about the amendments to the ECL guidelines,” CJP Umar Ata Bandial said.
The chief justice requested that Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf read section 2 of the ECL Rules, 2010, which states that terrorists, tax defaulters, and loan defaulters are prohibited from leaving the country.
The CJP inquired, “Did the federal cabinet give approval to ECL rules?”
As a result, the attorney general informed the Supreme Court that he will transmit the minutes of the federal cabinet meeting to the court.
Justice Mazhar pointed out how a minister may make changes to the ECL guidelines 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.
The FIA noted in its report that no government institution, including the Interior Ministry, attempted to interfere with the independent prosecution of the high-profile case that was being heard in many courts.
Farooq Bajwa had been chosen as the prosecutor at the request of the FIA, according to the statement. The names of the suspects are added to the exit control list (ECL) on the advice of the government, courts, and other institutions, according to the statement.
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.