Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif on Monday submitted in the Lahore High Court (LHC) a contempt petition against six officials for barring him from flying abroad despite the court’s order granting him permission to do so.
On May 8, Shehbaz was not allowed to fly to the United Kingdom via Doha from Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport. At the time, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) immigration officials had told him that he could not board the flight as his name was on the stop list — Provisional National Identification List (PNIL).
A day ago on May 7, the LHC had given him conditional permission through an interim order to go abroad for medical treatment.
"Keeping in view the past conduct and travel history, the fact that name of the petitioner is not in Exit Control List (ECL) at the moment, the name of the petitioner in blacklist, if already placed, will not stop the petitioner from one-time visit to UK from May 8, 2021, to July 3, 2021 for his medical checkup as per his personal commitment made before this court," the interim order had said, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com.
After Shehbaz was not allowed to fly, the PML-N had said court orders were violated and vowed to file a contempt of court petition.
The petition filed today has named the secretary of the Interior Ministry, director general of the FIA, director FIA Punjab, and the deputy director, inspector and sub-inspector immigration at Lahore airport.
"That by now it is a matter of public knowledge and an open secret that state departments and its agencies are being employed and used as a tool for political engineering and to victimise the political opponents, instant complaint is a classic example of high handedness, utter disregard of rule of law, blatant defiance and deliberate disobedience, defeating and frustrating an order of this honourable court through contumacious and contemptuous conduct by way of resorting to false and frivolous pretext," reads the petition.
It added that the LHC order had been announced and read over in the presence of the deputy attorney general and two deputy directors law of the FIA.
The "order had become a matter of public knowledge on that very date as various representatives and federal ministers of the federal government had discussed its contents and expressed reservations", said the petition.
It argued that the reason given for not permitting the PML-N president to proceed abroad for medical treatment was "lame and false because a comprehensive mechanism as to updating of IBMS (Integrated Border Management System), placing or removal of names in the stop lists 24/7 round the clock is in vogue."
"That the respondents with malafide intention have deliberately disobeyed, defied and disregarded the order dated May 7, 2021, which all the respondents are persisting with obdurately.
"Hence, they all have committed gross contempt of this honourable court and have rendered them liable to be proceeded against and punished in accordance with law," argued the petition.
It called for the respondents to be summoned and "proceeded against and punished for contempt of this honourable court in accordance with law", along with any other relief deemed to be "fit and appropriate" to the petitioner.
Earlier today, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid announced in a presser that Shehbaz’s name had been placed on the ECL.
Application for implementation of LHC order
The PML-N president also filed a civil miscellaneous application which called for the implementation of the LHC order on May 7, 2021.
It argued that the non-implementation of the LHC order was "deliberate and prompted by malafide intention, official respondents are duty bound to abide by, comply with and implement the order dated May 7, 2021, but they have failed to do the needful".
"Indeed, the instant case is typical example of the state functionaries acting at the arbitrary whim and wish of the federal government in flagrant and flippant violation of fundamental rights and statutory protections."
The application called for the implementation of the LHC order on May 7 by the respondents "immediately without further loss of time in the interest of justice", and any other relief deemed to be "fit and appropriate".