LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday disposed of as withdrawn the petitions of Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif against the federal government for placing him on a blacklist and seeking implementation of a court order that gave him a one-time permission to go abroad for medical treatment.
Shehbaz had filed a civil miscellaneous application, saying he wanted to withdraw his pending petitions since he had been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) through a memorandum issued on May 17 last.
At the outset of the hearing, Shehbaz’s counsel Amjad Pervez said the pendency of the petitions with regard to the blacklist would be of no use for the petitioner or the government. He said the petitioner intended to challenge the government’s decision of placing him on the ECL.
Deputy Attorney General Rana Abdul Shakoor Khan opposed withdrawal of the petitions and argued the court had already sought a reply from the federal government in the matter.
He said the government wanted to submit its reply and the court should not dispose of the matter before going through its version. He pointed out that the government also filed an appeal before the Supreme Court against the LHC order allowing Shehbaz to go abroad.
Asked whether a matter could be withdrawn from the high court after an appeal was filed against it before the apex court, Shehbaz’s counsel told the court that a petitioner could withdraw his/her case any time.
Justice Ali Baqar Najafi observed that the government should not have any objection to the withdrawal of Mr Shehbaz’s petitions.
The judge further observed that the courts were there to protect the rights of the citizens. “The government and the citizens have equal rights before the state institutions,” he added.
The judge allowed the application of Mr Shehbaz and disposed of his pending petition and applications against the blacklist and for implementation of the court’s order.
Justice Najafi had on May 7 permitted Mr Shehbaz to visit the United Kingdom for medical treatment, ruling that the blacklist would not stop him for one time.
However, the immigration officials at the Lahore airport stopped the opposition leader from boarding a reserved flight as his name had also been included in the Provincial National Identification List (PNIL), another category of no-fly list, which was not updated yet.
Shehbaz initially filed a contempt of court petition against the officials of the interior ministry and immigration staff. However, the LHC registrar office did not entertain it, saying the contempt petitions did not fall in the categories of the cases permitted to be instituted during the enforcement of Covid-19 related standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Therefore, Shehbaz’s legal team moved a civil miscellaneous application, asking the court to get its May 7 order implemented.
Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2021