ISLMABAD   -   The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Friday turned down a petition of former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf seeking removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL).

A division bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani announced the verdict which it had reserved earlier after hearing arguments of both the sides.

The IHC bench noted in the verdict, “For what has been discussed above, the petitioner, if so advised, would be at liberty to file applications before the different trial courts before which proceedings are pending against him.

The petitioner would be expected to explicitly mention in his applications the details and purpose of his intended plans to travel outside Pakistan.”

It added, “In case each trial court is satisfied and exemption from personal appearance is granted with the permission to travel outside Pakistan, then, the federal government has taken a stance that in such an eventually the petitioner’s name being on the Exit Control List would not be an impediment.”

“The petition is, therefore, disposed of in the above terms,” said the judgment of IHC.

In its reply in this matter, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had adopted that his petition is not maintainable under the law hence liable to be dismissed being infructuous.

It added, “In the light of the judgment reported as 2019 YLR 781, the petitioner must approach the learned Accountability Court for removal of his name from ECL, as several references have been filed before the Accountability Court Islamabad whereupon charge has been framed, trial commenced and the same is ripe up for conclusion necessitating the petitioner’s presence at the time of production of evidence as well as statement under Section 342 CrPC. In this view of the matter, there is grave apprehension of absconsion.”

The NAB maintained that the petitioner has invoked the constitutional jurisdiction of this court before availing the alternate remedies available to him under the law on the subject.

In his petition, PPP leader Raja Pervez Ashraf sough removal of his name from the ECL while his counsel Farooq Naek contended before the bench that since the accountability court’s judge, Mohammad Bashir, was on leave and the former PM was scheduled to attend a conference abroad, the court should pass an order to the interior ministry for the removal of his client’s name from the ECL.

However, the NAB prosecutor informed the court that Judge Bashir would resume his duties on September 6. At this, Advocate Naek argued that the international conference was scheduled to be held on September 6 and Ashraf needed to be there well before this date.