Govt of Pakistan, NAB Submit Replies Over Nawaz Sharif’s ECL Plea

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in its reply on a plea seeking unconditional removal of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL), challenged the jurisdiction of the court, reported on Friday.

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Pakistan: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in its reply on a plea seeking unconditional removal of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL), challenged the jurisdiction of the court, ARY News reported on Friday.

The high court was not eligible to hear the petition, NAB said in its reply. Removing a name from the ECL is entrusted with the federal government, the accountability bureau further said.

It is responsibility of the government to ensure production of a convict in court in each hearing.

A high court could hear the case under Article 199 and in view of the decisions of the higher judiciary, Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Amjad Pervez argued.

The federal government also in submitted its reply in Lahore High Court (LHC).

A division bench of the high court headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi resumed hearing of the petition.

The government in its reply, comprises of 45 pages, opposed granting permission to Sharif without submitting required indemnity bonds and insisted that the condition for removal of his name from the ECL should not be set aside. He has been convicted and not been allowed to leave the country without a security deposit.

Additional Attorney General Ishtiaq Chaudhry submitted the government’s reply in the court.

The federal cabinet had given conditional approval to the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad seeking depositing an indemnity bond of Rs seven billion prior to removal of his name from the no-fly-list.

The federal government on Friday urged the Lahore High Court (LHC) to maintain its condition of seeking a security bond from former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The petition challenged the government’s conditional one-time permission to Nawaz to travel abroad for medical treatment only after submitting a Rs7.5 billion surety bond.

During Thursday’s hearing the court sought a report and para-wise comments from the federal government and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Appearing on behalf of the federal government, Additional Attorney General Ishtiaq A Khan objected to the maintainability of the petition and requested that the petition be dismissed for being “non-maintainable”.

He contended that Nawaz should approach the Islamabad High Court (IHC) instead for removal of his name from the ECL, as the federal government had placed his name on the list and the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the plea.

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Nawaz counsel Amjad Pervez stated that the LHC could hear the petition as the NAB was a federal institution. The counsel argued that the condition of furnishing Rs7.5 billion surety bonds was not based on any provision of law.

He added the government’s condition carried no legal standing as the petitioner had been granted bail in Chaudhry Sugar Mills case by the LHC and his sentence in Al-Azizia reference had been suspended by the IHC.

He contended that Nawaz’s name was placed on the ECL in the wake of pending cases against him. Pervez pointed out that the former prime minister had sent an application to the interior ministry for removal of his name from the ECL but the federal government issued the impugned order on Nov 13, allowing Nawaz to proceed abroad for treatment only after furnishing indemnity bond.

He further said that Nawaz had the fundamental rights under Article 4 & 15 of the Constitution to move freely.

Conditional Permission Not Acceptable, Govt Will Turn This Into NRO: Nawaz

The court then asked the attorney general to tell whether the fine imposed by the government was part of the accountability court verdict.

Responding to the query, the additional attorney general said the federal government had sought surety bond equivalent to the fine imposed by the Islamabad accountability court on Nawaz.

Nawaz’s counsel also admitted that the amount of indemnity bond sought by the government was equivalent to the fine imposed on the petitioner in Al-Azizia reference by an accountability court.

The law officer added that the PML-N leader’s sentence was only suspended in Al-Azizia reference and not set aside. The bench observed that the IHC apparently suspended the sentence of the petitioner and not the fine. Justifying the government’s move to seek surety bond, he argued that if a person allowed to travel abroad did not come back, the federal government would be held responsible, as had happened in Pervez Musharraf case.

“Does the ECL ordinance give the Centre authority to give permission for a one-time visit abroad?” asked the court.

To this Pervez said the impugned order of November 13 was not based on any provisions of Exit from Pakistan (Control) Ordinance 1981 and Exit from Pakistan (Control) Rules 2010, empowering the federal government to impose extra conditions for his one-time permission to travel abroad especially after he had been granted bail by two different high courts.

He added Nawaz was seriously ill and the medical board had suggested his treatment abroad. The counsel said the courts were there to take action if the petitioner violated their orders of bail and suspension. The government has no role in the whole matter, he added.

The law officer sought time to verify when asked whether the impugned order of the government for the indemnity bond was a result of any consensus or whether the petitioner had been placed on the ECL on the recommendation of Lahore or Islamabad office of the NAB.

The law officer also sought time to file para-wise comments to the petition, which the bench duly allowed. The bench also asked the law officer to assist it on a legal point as to whether the government had the power to put any condition for removing name from the ECL if there was an order by the court.

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