Islamabad - The top court dismissing the appeals of customs collector and ministry of interior has maintained the Sindh High Court’s judgement regarding removing model Ayyan Ali’s name from ECL.

Justice Ejaz Afzal announced the judgment yesterday. A three-judge bench, after hearing the arguments of parties’ counsels on April 6 had reserved the judgement.

The Sindh High Court on March 7 had ordered the secretary Ministry of Interior to immediately remove supermodel Ayyan Ali’s name from the ECL and submit compliance report within 14 days.

The Collectorate Customs challenged that order in the apex court. Later the interior ministry also impleaded party in the case.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it doesn’t see any tenable ground to prohibit supermodel Ayyan Ali from travelling abroad, but said would not approve of bypassing a forum, provided by law. The judgment said: “We don’t feel inclined to recall and rescind the relief granted to the respondent [Ayyan] by the High Court on this score at this stage, when we don’t see any tenable ground for prohibiting the movement of the respondent, all the same we would not approve of bypassing a forum provided by law.”

In General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf ECL case, the apex court had though upheld the SHC judgement but it did not preclude the federation and the Special Court from deciding to place the general’s name on ECL.

The interior ministry, however, allowed Musharraf to go abroad on medical grounds. Ayyan now wants to go out of the country regarding her professional engagement.

The apex court said the apprehension of the counsels of customs and ministry of interior that as Ayyan has been charged for committing serious offences, removal of her name from ECL would amount to letting her off for good, is misconceived as despite removal of her name from ECL, her attendance could still be enforced or dispensed with by the trial court in conformity with the relevant provisions of the CrPC.

The court stated that no doubt Ayyan has been charged in a money laundering case which is still pending adjudication in the Custom Court but mere pendency of a criminal case cannot furnish a justification for prohibiting her movement.

The judgment said it has never been the case of the Customs Collectorate and Ministry of Interior that the supermodel is involved in any of the cases listed in Rule 2 of the Exit from Pakistan (Control) Rules, 2010 in general or Rule 2(1)(b) in particular. She has also not been charged to have embezzled a large government’s funds or committed institutional fraud, it added.

“In the absence of any such allegations, we don’t think the Ayyan’s movement could be prohibited under the Ordinance or the ECL rules.”

The court, however, didn’t agree with Ayyan counsel’s argument that remedy by way of review is inadequate or illusory because such argument would tend to defeat the letter and spirit of Section 3 of the ECL Ordinance. “Such argument would also tend to defeat the letter and spirit of Article 199 of the Constitution which provides that ‘a High Court may, if it is satisfied that no other adequate remedy is provided by law, on the application of any aggrieved party, make an order.” The judgment said that the words used in the article cannot be lightly ignored or overlooked.

The customs officials in March 2015 had arrested the supermodel Ayyan Ali from Islamabad airport and recovered $506800 from Ayyan. The model girl has not denied the recovery, but refused to accept involvement in money laundering.

The model in her statement had contended that her incomplete project in Dubai has been stuck up for one year and the company, with which she has an agreement of modelling threatened to lodge a claim of $10 million if she fails to show up in April in Dubai for photo session.

The Customs Collectorate’s stance was that $506800 were recovered from Ayyan and she did not deny the recovery. The Customs lawyer had told that the charges have been framed against Ayyan and ASF and Customs officials are the witnesses and the trial is pending in the Customs Court.

He said if there is bona fide on the part of accused part then she should face the trial. He assured if the model cooperates then the trial could be completed within one month.

In the last hearing Justice Ejaz had said that the government should not have discriminatory policy in Ayyan’s case. “If you (federation) will do the classification then it is not good.” He said what is good for person A should also be good for person B. “What terrible will happen if she (supermodel) flies out of the country,” the judge asked.