ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld an earlier decision by the Sindh High Court and ordered to remove model Ayyan Ali’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL).
The three-member bench of the SC headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising Justice Sardar Tariq Massod and Justice Faisal Arab announced the reserved verdict on petitions against the Sindh High Court’s verdict filed by Interior ministry and Customs authorities.
The order stated that the model was charged for committing serious offences and 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 Cr.P.C.
The counsel for Ayyan Ali pleaded that the movement of his client, who has been charged under Section 156(1)(viii) read with Section 2(s)(ii) of Customs Act, Section 8 of FER Act and Section 3(1) of Import and Export (Control) Act, 1950, could not be prohibited by placing her name on the ECL that too when she has not committed any of the crimes listed in Rule 2 of the Exit from Pakistan (Control) Rules, 2010.
He argued that remedy of review could not be insisted upon when it is inadequate and even illusory, nor could the remedy granted by the High Court through a petition under Article 199 of the Constitution be recalled or rescinded on this score.
He said that mere pendency of a criminal case cannot furnish a justification for prohibiting the movement of any citizen in contravention of the provisions contained in Article 15 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
The order further stated that Ayyan Ali, no doubt, has been charged in a case which is still pending adjudication in the competent Court of law. But mere pendency of a criminal case cannot furnish a justification for prohibiting her movement.
It has never been the case of the petitioners that the respondent 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, inasmuch as she has not been charged to have embezzled a large government’s funds or committed institutional fraud.
In the absence of any such allegations, we don’t think the respondent’s movement could be prohibited under the Ordinance or the Rules mentioned above.
We, however, don’t agree with the argument of the counsel for the respondent 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 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 words used in the Article cannot be lightly ignored or overlooked.
Though we don’t feel inclined to recall and rescind the relief granted to the respondent 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 by passing a forum provided by law.
The model is being tried for laundering half a million dollars.
The Sindh High Court had ordered expunging her name from the ECL on March 7.