SC rejects NAB plea to put Shehbaz’s name on ECL

Updated 28 Oct 2020

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In this file photo, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif appears for a hearing at an accountability court in Lahore. — DawnNewsTV
In this file photo, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif appears for a hearing at an accountability court in Lahore. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: The Sup­re­me Court on Tuesday rejected a plea instituted by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to place the name of PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif on the Exit Control List (ECL).

Headed by Justice Mushir Alam, a two-judge Supreme Court bench took up the appeal by NAB against the Lahore High Court’s order of removing the name of Mr Sharif from the ECL in a corruption reference about ama­ssing wealth beyond known sources of his income.

NAB’s Additional Prose­cu­tor Jahanzeb Bharwana pleaded before the apex court that the former chief minister of Punjab was allegedly involved in suspicious transactions, adding that a number of accused involved in money laundering had fled during the inquiry stage whereas six accused had absconded.

He explained to the court that earlier the name of the PML-N president was removed from the ECL on the directives of the LHC, but now much progress had been made in the case.

During the hearing, Justice Muneeb Akhtar observed that the restriction on Mr Sharif’s travelling seemed unnecessary at the time of the high court’s orders, adding that the apex court had already interpreted the anti-money laundering laws in the Justice Qazi Faez Isa presidential reference by holding that suspicious transactions do not fall under corruption charges. Currently, Mr Sharif is in judicial custody.

NAB officials did not even bother to read the verdict of Justice Isa’s case, Justice Akhtar regretted.

Did the former chief minister of Punjab flee after his name was removed from the ECL, asked Justice Akhtar, adding that NAB included Mr Sharif’s name in the ECL during the inquiry stage.

While rejecting the appeal, the Supreme Court also observed that the NAB prosecutor could not identify the culprit in the high court’s decision.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2020