LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday disposed of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz’s petition seeking removal of her name from the Exit Control List (ECL) and directed the federal government to decide the matter in accordance with the law within seven days.

“This court cannot exercise the authority of the federal cabinet and we want that every institution works within its own jurisdiction,” observed a two-judge bench, headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and also comprising Justice Anwarul Haq Pannun.

The bench converted her petition into a representation and referred it to a sub-committee of the federal cabinet with the direction to decide the matter within a week.

During the hearing, the bench repeatedly asked the lawyers for Ms Nawaz as to why they preferred to move the court instead of approaching the government first to avail review of the impugned order.

LHC gives one week to federal cabinet subcommittee; NAB issued notice on plea for passport return

Advocates Azam Nazir Tarar and Amjad Pervez, who represented the PML-N leader, said the government had already disclosed its mind since federal ministers had been saying in TV programmes that the petitioner would not be permitted to travel abroad.

Mr Tarar said there was no hope that the government would remove the petitioner’s name from the ECL. But he cited a number of cases, including the one of model Ayan Ali, wherein courts had allowed the petitioners to go abroad.

However, Justice Najafi refer­red to a recent decision by the cabinet sub-committee on the review filed by former premier Nawaz Sharif against the order of placing his name on the ECL.

The judge observed that it would be appropriate for the petitioner to approach the government first, as she could move the court again if she felt aggrieved after the decision.

In her petition, Ms Nawaz sought removal of her name from the ECL and a one-time permission to travel abroad to look after her ailing father in London.

She pleaded that the impugned memorandum by the interior ministry of placing her on the ECL was in violation of her fundamental rights of due process, life, liberty and fair treatment of law guaranteed in the Constitution.

She said her name was put on the ECL on NAB’s recommendations in a mechanical manner and without application of judicial mind, in contravention of the law and various judgements by superior courts. She said there was no default in her appearance before the trial court over a period of about one and a half years and she along with her father had gone abroad and returned during the pendency of the trial.

Ms Nawaz recalled that she and Mr Sharif volunteered to come back to the country and surrendered to law even after their conviction by the trial court.

Additional Attorney General Ishtiaq A. Khan requested the bench to allow a 15-day time for the government to decide the ECL matter. However, the bench directed the government to decide the representation of Ms Nawaz within seven days.

The bench also issued a notice to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for Dec 16 on another application moved by Ms Nawaz.

In the application, the PML-N vice president demanded that her passport be returned to her. The applicant said she had surrendered the passport to the LHC deputy registrar (judicial) on court order before being released on bail in Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2019