ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ordered the federal government to review its decision to place 172 individuals including prominent politicians on the Exit Control List, as it resumed hearing the long-running mega money laundering and fake bank accounts case on Monday.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, who is leading a two-judge bench hearing the suo motu case, expressed anger at the inclusion of Sindh chief minister Murad Ali Shah and others on the ECL and questioned how the federal government could justify adding 172 individuals to the ECL.
A Joint Investigation Team probing the money laundering case had held the Zardari and Omni groups responsible in its report submitted to the apex court last Monday. The report had also suggested that all the suspects in the case be placed on the ECL.
In view of the JIT findings, the federal government on Friday released a list of 172 suspects whose names were placed on the no-fly list. The list included Bilawal, Zardari, Sindh chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, presidents of a number of local banks, and other former ministers and bureaucrats.
Irked at the government’s move, the chief justice wondered how all these individuals could be barred from flying.
“How can the chief executive of the country’s second-biggest province be put on the ECL?” Justice Nisar asked the attorney-general in attendance.
“We had summoned replies from [these individuals], but the government placed them on the ECL,” the top judge remarked.
“[What if] the next name on the ECL is that of NAB chairman? Tomorrow your name [could] be added too!” Justice Nisar stated in his remarks to the attorney general.
“Who did this?” the judge asked, to which the attorney general replied that he would look into the matter.
“We will look into it ourselves,” Justice Nisar remarked.
“We cannot allow the government to be removed simply on the basis of a report,” the judge continued, adding that the court had not yet endorsed the JIT report.
Moreover, the Supreme Court during today’s hearing approved a request by the legal team of Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur to be allowed till end of this week to submit their reply in the case.
“It won’t [take us] even a minute to scrap the governor’s rule if anyone imposes it,” he warned.
While addressing Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi, who was summoned by the apex court in relation to the placement of suspects’ names on the ECL, Justice Nisar warned that no one would be allowed to overstep the legal ambit.
“Tell your elders, this country will only be run according to the Constitution,” the judge observed, and instructed the minister to take the ECL matter to the cabinet for review.