KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Wednesday summoned the federal interior secretary for not complying with its earlier order to evolve standard operating procedures about the placement of names on the exit control list.

The two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha expressed serious resentment over the ministry of interior for taking its order, passed over two years ago, lightly and said that it strongly deprecated such conduct of ignoring its order.

The bench directed the interior secretary to be in attendance on Sept 30 along with a statement about placing on record the SOPs of his ministry regarding under what circumstances names of people should be placed on ECL or adopting the SOPs submitted by the National Accountability Bureau in court.

It warned that if the interior secretary failed to appear at the next hearing, the court would pass an appropriate order in this regard.

The bench observed that it had passed the order in May 2018 and in February 2020 a NAB prosecutor had placed on record a statement along with a copy of revised/amended ECL SOPs on the behalf of NAB for placement of people’s names on the ECL. Unfortunately, the ministry of interior had not filed any reply, it added.

In February this year, an official had sought further time of one week to file the SOPs of the ministry and the bench had granted last chance to the ministry to comply with its directions within two months.

When the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday, deputy attorney general Abdul Jabbar Qureshi informed the bench that the interior secretary had neither adopted the SOPs given by NAB nor provided ministry’s own rules/SOPs as under what circumstances a person’s name should be placed on the ECL.

In its May 29, 2018 order, the bench said, “To enhance the public’s confidence in the rule of law and adherence to the constitution both the federal government and the NAB when dealing with cases which may entail placing a person’s name on ECL are hereby directed to develop rules/SOPs within 3 months of the date of this order to ensure that all persons are treated equally before the law in this respect notwithstanding their status or position in society keeping in view the need sometimes to place a person’s name on the ECL expeditiously due to genuine fears of his ascension or other cogent reasons.”

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2020

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