ISLAMABAD - Declaring ECL as only valid list for ban on travel abroad, the Senate Committee on Law and Justice on Friday directed the Ministry of Interior to abolish Black List as it has no legal value and submit compliance report within a period of ten days.

Chairman of the committee Muhammad Javed Abbasi while presenting a report, assigned by the House, pertaining to the procedure of putting names in Black List and legal value of the said list, he demanded immediately stopping putting the names of people on Black List and abolishing all such existing lists due to absence of no legal cover. The committee said that Exit Control List (ECL) is the only valid list in this regard.

In a written report, the members of the committee deplored longstanding practice of issuing/maintaining Black List and termed it ultra-vires to the law and in violation of fundamental rights. The committee was of the view that Black List has no legal cover thus an illegal exercise is being carried out since long and citizens were being denied their fundamental rights without any due process of law.

The committee also noted that Passport Act was enacted by the Parliament and no such power of maintaining Black List was delegated to the executive and in absence of any such power, the government has no authority to maintain the list.

Speaking in Senate, Javed Abbasi said two types of restrictions have been imposed on travelling abroad including Black List and Exit Control List (ECL). The committee had summoned relevant officials, who told the committee that there is no legal cover to the Black List. Such practice is continuing since 1957 without any legal cover. Later no legal cover is provided to Black List in Passport Act 1974 also.

He said Director General Immigration and Passports Ishrat Ali briefed the committee that Black List is being maintained in pursuance of para 51 of Passport Manual, 2006. This provision has remained part of the Manual since 1957, however, some of parts/categories were incorporated in the Passport Act, 1974, and remaining continued to be part of passport manuals, as and when issued. The Director General of Immigration and Passport does not initiate this list but the names are added on the recommendations of judicial and quasi judicial forums.

He said Director General FIA Bashir Memon briefed the committee that FIA only implements the Black List and this implementation is done through an automated system which does not process case of a person whose name has been added in the Black List.

The written report of the committee, quoted Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen M Mazari as stating that such lists are not acceptable in democracy as the same impinge upon the fundamental rights and have no legal sanctity behind it. The minister also referred two cases of Members National Assembly, which were taken up in the meeting of the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights and shared that when the committee enquired about the legal status of the Black List then their names were put on ECL.  In a way the concerned authorities recognised that there is no legal value of the Black List and ECL is the only valid list in this regard.