Islamabad - The Islamabad High Court yesterday turned down an application filed by Zulfikar Bukhari seeking stay orders against federal government’s order barring him to travel out of country.
However, a single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq issued notices to secretary interior, Director General (DG) Immigration & Passports, DG Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) through its Chairman in the petition of Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari, a close friend of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman, Imran Khan.
Besides issuing the notices, the IHC also directed the respondents to submit their reply by June 21 in this matter and adjourned the proceedings.
During the hearing, Justice Aamer remarked that you need not an interim relief as ‘My order will take two days to reach while you will get relief in half an hour’.
The IHC bench also directed a section officer of the interior ministry who deals with the Exit Control List (ECL) to personally appear before the court on the next hearing.
In the petition, Zulfi Bukhari has mentioned his residential address as Mayfair London, the same area where Nawaz Sharif’s sons resides. He adopted before the court that he was stopped at Noor Khan Airbase on June 11 by the immigration officials due to his name being placed on the Exit Control List.
While challenging federal government’s order barring him to leave the country due to a pending NAB inquiry, Zulfi Bukhari argued that the travel restrictions will adversely affect his business in London.
The petitioner moved the court through his counsel Sikander Bashir Mohmand Advocate. He cited that national accountability bureau (NAB) on February 20, 2018 issued him a call up notice for inquiry. According to the petitioner, the notice said that an offence was committed by setting up offshore companies in British Virgin Island. The offshore companies have been revealed in Panama Papers.
Zulfi added that this call up notice was delivered at his Islamabad house where he normally does not reside. Through this first call up notice, the petitioner was asked to appear before the NAB IO on February 27. Petitioner’s father received this letter on Feb 26 and replied to NAB that his son is a British national. He is not in the country and will not return before four weeks.
Thereafter, he continued that a second call up notice was issued to the petitioner and was also delivered to the same address. In the second call up notice, petitioner was asked to appear before NAB IO on March 15. Petitioner’s father then forwarded the notice to him in London which he saw for the first time on March 17.
Then, Bukhari told the court that petitioner wrote a letter to NAB informing them that he is not a resident of Pakistan and categorically stated that he does not possess any evidence regarding commission of any offence. NAB however issued a third call up notice. This time petitioner (Zulfi) responded through his solicitor.
In reply, he said that the petitioner challenged jurisdiction of NAB to initiate any inquiry or issue call up notices due the fact that the petitioner never remained a public office holder nor entrusted with any public funds ever; being British citizen, his business interests primarily lie outside Pakistan; there is no allegation against him for any grievance of public at large.
As per the petitioner, this reply was duly served to NAB Islamabad and officials of the anti-graft body verbally confirmed the receipt. Thereafter, there was no correspondence between him and NAB. On June 11, he was in Islamabad and planned to travel to Saudi Arabi for performing Umrah along with his close and trusted friend Imran Khan.
He maintained that, much to the surprise of the petitioner whilst at Islamabad airport, he was verbally informed by FIA officials that he was barred from exiting the country. He is not certain whether it is black list or exit control list but he was barred from travelling abroad. It was the first time the petitioner came to know about any such decision by the federal government. Bukhari said that it was orally communicated to the petitioner and no reason was provided in support.
After a considerable delay at airport, ministry of interior wrote a letter to the FIA through which the petitioner was one time permitted to travel for performing Umrah.
He argued that he is aggrieved by the decision of federal government which is aimed at curtailing his liberty and movement.
He contended that the orders of the federal government to not let him him travel outside the country are in violation of fundamental rights and liable to be set aside declaring void ab initio.
Therefore, Zulfi prayed to the court to issue directions for removal of his name from ECL or black list or any other manifestation imposing travel restrictions on him declaring such orders illegal, unlawful and void ab initio.