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Govt directed to bring ECL rules changes within 'legal ambit' in a week

A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial heard the case.

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) - The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday directed the federal government to bring the recent changes in the rules of the Exit Control List (ECL) within the "ambit of the law" in a week.

A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, had taken suo motu notice on apprehensions that criminal justice might be undermined by people in authority.

Chief Justice while addressing the Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf said that those suspects were also excluded from the ECL list who were added by the apex court. He further questioned that who add names of people in ECL in NAB cases?

On question of CJ Umar Ata Bandial, the Attorney General said that names in ECL list have been added on the order of NAB chairman. On which CJ said that it means NAB must have added names after thinking carefully.

The CJ said that every case in NAB is on corruption case but the bureau does not add everyone in the ECL list. He further said that as per NAB, names of people who were involved in the corruption of billions of rupees have been excluded from the list.

While Justice Mazahar Naqvi said that it would have been better that the names of people could have been excluded from the ECL list after reviewing properly. The government says going out of the country is the basic right of anyone but if that is the case then what is the purpose of ECL, he questioned.

The Attorney General said that according to me ECL should not even exist. On which CJ said that we will not decide on a personal opinion. CJ added that to make the arrangements within a week as we don’t want to intervene in the authority of any executive.

On a question about ECL amendments by SC judge Muneeb Akhtar, Attorney general said, “The government amended the ECL rules after fulfilling all legal aspects. The cabinet has written that the amendments will be applied retroactively. Amendment of ECL Rules is at the discretion of the federal government."

He told the court that cabinet members  names were removed from the ECL so the government could function smoothly. "There is no law that states discussion with NAB is necessary for removing the names.”

SC ordered NAB and FIA to submit the record of high profile cases and to submit the soft copies of every record. While Prosecutor General requested for some time for the submission of the record and said that the orders of SC can be implemented after the appointment of NAB chairman.

SC said that the government will appoint NAB chairman after proper consultation. We hope that the government will appoint an able and honest man on the seat. While the court urged NAB to work honestly rather than attacking someone on personal revenge.

CJ Bandial said that we should work on application of justice and not think that on which rank our Supreme Court stands. International watchdogs observe Pakistan on the basis of assumptions not on data.

Meanwhile, the SC has adjourned the case till June 14.