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Rao Anwar seeks review of order retaining his name on ECL

Updated February 15, 2019

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Former Malir SSP Rao Anwar insists he needs to "fulfil his fatherly obligations" towards his children who are settled abroad. — File photo
Former Malir SSP Rao Anwar insists he needs to "fulfil his fatherly obligations" towards his children who are settled abroad. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Rao Anwar, former senior official of Sindh police and prime accused in the case of ‘fake encounter’ in which Naqeebullah Mehsud was killed, has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court, challenging its verdict for retention of his name in the Exit Control List (ECL).

On Jan 10, a three-judge SC bench headed by then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar had rejected former SSP Malir Anwar’s plea seeking removal of his name from the ECL.

During the course of hearing, Mr Nisar wondered as to who had acquitted Mr Anwar. He was informed that the former Sindh police official was not acquitted but granted bail by the Sindh High Court. “He is talking about going abroad when his passport should be confiscated,” the former CJP had observed.

He recalled Mr Anwar’s failed attempt to flee the country on a Dubai-bound flight in January 2018, where he was stopped by immigration officials and the repeated warning that led to his appearance before the apex court in March 2018. “We know how he was arrested,” he emphasised.

Mr Nisar was irked by the ‘special’ treatment provided to Mr Anwar. “Why did you not inform the bench about the special treatment given to the former police official?” the former CJP had asked Faisal Siddiqui, the counsel for Naqeebullah’s father.

In his review petition, Mr Anwar has pleaded that the court did not notice an important aspect of the matter that the petitioner’s involvement in the crime was far-fetched and was based upon assumptions, surmises and conjectures. “There is no likelihood of trial concluding in near future inasmuch as even charge has not been framed so far and there are about seventy witnesses. Therefore, the impugned order has the effect of indefinite restriction on movement of the petitioner, which is gross violation of his fundamental rights.”

It also points out that the petitioner has been granted bail by the trial court against solvent surety and his passport has also been deposited with trial court. The petitioner is regularly attending trial court and he cannot be subjected to unreasonable restriction on his movement till conclusion of the trial which is not possible in near future.

It says the court completely ignored the compulsion of the petitioner to travel abroad inasmuch as his entire family is settled abroad and he is required to fulfil his fatherly obligations towards his sons and daughters. Given his active participation in eradicating the menace of terrorism, he has serious security threats and it is impossible for him to travel freely in Pakistan along with family or to hold any family function. The impugned order, with due respect, has deprived the petitioner of his right to life, right to move abroad freely and right to have equal protection of law, the petition argues.

It pleads that there is sheer discrimination with the petitioner viz-a-viz placing his name on the ECL inasmuch as in other identical high-profile criminal cases, name of accused persons are not put on the ECL for obvious reason that law does not support.

It says that in the impugned order, the court completely overlooked the principle of law that registration of FIR or pendency of a case was not sufficient reason to curtail or abridge fundamental right of freedom of movement of an accused person.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2019