ISLAMABAD: Supermodel Ayyan Ali heaved a sigh of relief, as the Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed her to travel abroad. The Supreme Court upheld the Sindh High Court’s verdict and directed the Ministry of Interior to remove Ali’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL). A three-member bench of the top court headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan announced the verdict against the plea filed by the government that challenged SHC’s decision about removal of Ali’s from the ECL. Customs officials arrested Ali at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad on March 14 last year when she was found in possession of $506,800. Customs officials charged her under Section 156(1)(viii) and Section 2(s)(ii) of the Customs Act, Section 8 of the FER Act and Section 3(1) of the Import and Export (Control) Act, 1950.
The government put the model’s name on the ECL and stated that it was its prerogative to place the name of anyone on the ECL if he or she is involved in corruption.
The top court observed in its five-page judgement that mere pendency of a criminal case could not be a justification for restricting Ali’s movement. The court said that it had never been the plea of the government that Ali was 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.
She had not been charged with embezzling huge government funds or committing 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,” stated the detailed judgement authored by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan.
The top appellant court observed in its judgement that the government’s apprehensions about removal of Ali’s name from the ECL were misplaced because her attendance could still be enforced by the trial court in conformity with the relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. “We, however, don’t agree with the argument of counsel for Ali that remedy by way of review is inadequate or illusory because such argument would 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,” the judgement further stated.