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LHC dismisses Maryam’s petition for removal of name from ECL on “humanitarian grounds”

Lahore High Court dismissed Maryam Nawaz's petition to get her name omitted from ECL directing Nawaz's counsel to address the right forum. Maryam seeks to fly abroad to her ailing father on humanitarian grounds.

Maryam

The Lahore High Court (LHC) has declared Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz’s petition seeking the removal of her name from Exit Control List (ECL) as inadmissible and directed her to approach the interior ministry in this regard. Maryam wanted to seek some relief on “on compassionate and humanitarian grounds”. The court has suggested the legal counsel for Maryam to approach the relevant forum.

According to details, a two-member bench headed by Justice Ali Baqir Najfi conducted hearing on the plea filed by PML-N leader through lawyers Amjad Pervez and Azam Nazeer.

During the hearing, Maryam Nawaz’s counsel said that the name of his client was placed on a no-fly list without hearing her stance. We don’t have any other forum better than the court that’s why we have raised this matter here, he told. The judge asked about the filing of review petition over which, the lawyer said that the federal ministers are adamant over not letting Maryam Nawaz go abroad.

The government would never give the decision in Maryam’s favor as it doesn’t want her to travel outside the country, he went on to say. Justice Ali Baqir remarked, “You should first contact the interior ministry and wait for its decision, then approach the judiciary.”

Read more: Maryam Nawaz gets bail to attend to Nawaz, at the cost of her passport

Subsequently, the court has disposed of the petition and directed the federal government to decide on the matter within seven days.

Maryam filed petition to seek relief on humanitarian grounds

In her petition, Maryam has argued that her name was placed on the ECL without notice and providing her with an opportunity of hearing through a memorandum dated August 20, 2018. The application, filed through advocate Amjad Pervaiz, had listed the federal government, Federal Investigation Agency, and chairman and director-general of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as respondents.

Maryam is currently free on bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSM) case, in which she is a suspect, but her name remains on the no-fly list. Her father, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who was convicted by an accountability court, traveled to London last month after the government and courts granted him permission to fly abroad on medical grounds.

The application stated that the recommendations by NAB were “acted upon in a mechanical manner and without judicious application of mind in contravention of the law declared by the superior courts”. It stated that the move to place Maryam’s name on the no-fly list was prompted by “political rhetoric, irrelevant and considerations extraneous to law” and that the jurisdiction to impose ban on travel by an accused or convict is the “exclusive domain” of the concerned court of law and not the government and NAB.

Noting that her father was shifted abroad on account of his critical health condition, the petition said Maryam was “also entitled to relief on compassionate and humanitarian grounds”. It said after her mother’s demise, it was Maryam who had been looking after her ailing father “who is much dependent upon her”.

Read more: Why is Maryam Nawaz silent? Severe mental stress over plight of Sharif Family

Maryam had requested the LHC to declare the memorandum through which her name was placed on the ECL last year as “illegal, without lawful authority, void ab-initio and of no legal effect”, and direct the government to delete her name from the ECL.

Analysts believe that like Nawaz his daughter shall also be allowed to leave the country after media and civil society create a compulsive political context where the government shall be left with no other option except to let Maryam leave for London.

However, this case is going to be a litmus test for the federal government yet again. Prime minister Imran Khan was not happy to allow Nawaz to leave for London. He expressed his ‘political helplessness’ on several occasions. He is unlikely to succumb to political pressure this time, sources said.

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