The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday rejected PPP leader Dr Asim Hussain's plea for the removal of his name from the interior ministry's Exit Control List (ECL).

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi issued the verdict, which had been reserved by Justice Junaid Ghaffar's two-judge bench on May 26.

The bench had reserved the verdict after hearing the concluding arguments of Dr Hussain's counsel, Barrister Latif Khosa, the deputy attorney general and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor.

In his concluding arguments, Khosa had said that Hussain's name was placed on the ECL with mala fide intentions, as there were no solid grounds for the move. He had claimed that the federal government had intended to deprive his client of availing medical treatment abroad.

At an earlier hearing, Dr Hussain's counsel had told the bench that his client “may lose his life if he did not undergo a spinal surgery abroad” as the federal government justified its decision of barring Hussain from leaving the country.

Opposing the argument, the federal government had reminded the SHC that Dr Hussain was barred from leaving the country because of his involvement in multi-billion rupee corruption cases.

Deputy Attorney General Liaquat Shaikh had pointed out that the interior ministry had placed Dr Hussain's name on the ECL on the order of the SHC and the recommendations of NAB, the country’s top anti-graft body, which was pursuing two corruption references against him.

He submitted that Dr Hussain could not be allowed to leave the country due to his involvement in the corruption cases and said the court should reject his application.

NAB Prosecutor Muhammad Altaf also opposed Dr Hussain's petition, arguing against removing him from the ECL along the same lines as the deputy attorney general.

Dr Asim Hussain, a close aide to PPP co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari, was released from a sub-jail set up for him at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre on March 31 after a little over 19 months in detention.

He was granted bail in two corruption references filed by NAB for allegedly causing massive losses to the national exchequer through corrupt practices. An anti-terrorism court had on April 15 separately allowed Dr Hussain to travel abroad after submitting a surety of Rs2 million. It had also ruled that if Dr Hussain did not return, the state should take over his hospitals.

However, Dr Hussain could not avail the relief offered by the anti-terrorism court without the consent of the SHC, which had been hearing the corruption cases against him.

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