The Lahore High Court gave Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz one-time permission to leave the country for a period of 10 days.
The opposition leader had stated that he on Nov 27, 2018, intended to travel abroad to see his ailing wife, undergoing medical treatment in the United Kingdom. However, he said, he was informed by the authorities that his name had been included in the list on the advice of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Hamza petitioned the court through Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar that the interior ministry had placed his name on the exit control list arbitrarily as no opportunity of hearing had been afforded to him before the impugned action.
The interior minister, passport and immigration personnel, and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) were made respondents in the petition.
Justice Muhammad Farrukh Irfan took up the petition in court today.
In his petition, Shahbaz said that multiple letters were written to the interior ministry to remove his name from the ECL, but to no avail. He also alleged that his name was added to the list by making the appearance of his name in some NAB inquiries the reason for the addition.
“According to the constitution, freedom to operate is every citizen’s right,” the petition said.
Additional Attorney General Ashfaq A Khan, who represented the federal government in court, said that a high court judgement itself had set down the rules for the restriction of movement for any citizen.
“If someone has caused monetary losses to the government they can be stopped from leaving the country,” the advocate general told the court.
“Remember, those who are in the government today may be sitting in the opposition tomorrow,” the judge said during the hearing while adding that the chief justice and supreme court judges are unhappy with the way NAB is conducting itself.
“NAB law is prevalent [in the country]? Is the country going to be run by NAB? Should the courts and the parliament stop functioning?” Justice Irfan said.
The court also issued the interior ministry a notice, seeking a reply on the matter.