ISLAMABAD, Dec 31 (APP):Supreme Court Monday questioned cabinet’s decision to place 172 individuals on the Exit Control List (ECL) in the mega money laundering and fake bank accounts case and asked for review in the next meeting.
A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, comprising Justice Ejazul Ahsan also granted one week to former president Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur to submit their reply into the matter.
The chief justice inquired why Murad’s name was placed on the ECL and “How the chief executive of the country’s second-largest province can be put on it.”
Taunting the attorney general, he said, “Will you next place the name of NAB chairman on the ECL and asked him to continue the job.” He said the court had not endorsed the JIT report yet.
State Minister for Interior Shehryar Afridi also appeared before the apex court as he was summoned in the case.
The chief justice asked the minister that how he would justify placing the names of 172 people on the ECL on the basis of JIT report?. It was very strange that a sitting chief minister’s name was placed on the ECL, he said and added “Go and review the decision, and take it up in the cabinet.”
The state minister assured the bench that court’s orders would be implemented in letter and spirit.
However, the attorney general apprised the court that the JIT recommended placing the suspects’ names on the ECL. He said JIT Head Ahsan Sadiq had expressed reservations in the letter.
The chief justice said names should not be placed on the ECL on the basis of a letter from the JIT. He said the JIT had over stepped its jurisdiction by writing the letter.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan said the bench was not perturbed over the JIT but the media trial and added the apex court would also review media’s reporting in the case.
Taking exception to the media commentary on the matter, Justice Nisar summoned Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority chairman and directed him to review programs aired on Dunia News.
Meanwhile, former president Asif Ali Zardari’s counsel Latif Khosa apprised that Farooq H Naik, refused himself from appearing before the court in this case as the JIT made him a suspect too in the case.
The chief justice dismissed the request and said, “No one can stop Farooq H Naik from appearing before the court and pleading his client’s case.”
The bench also instructed the Federal Investigation Agency to probe a fake audio call attributed to Latif Khosa.
The chief justice said the court would make a final decision after reviewing the JIT report and expressed intention to wrap up the case before January 15, as he would retire on January 17.
The hearing was adjourned till Monday, January 7.
A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the money laundering case had held the Zardari and Omni groups responsible in its report submitted in the apex court and suggested the federal government to put names of all suspects on the ECL.
In view of the JIT findings, the federal government directed that 172 suspects be placed on the no-fly list. Several bigwigs, including Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, former president of Summit Bank Hussain Lawai and Omni Group’s Anwar Majeed, have been nominated in the case. Property tycoon Malik Riaz, his son-in-law Zain, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari have also been included in the probe.