ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld Sindh High Court's (SHC) order to remove supermodel Ayyan's name from the country's Exit Control List (ECL).
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan rejected the federal government's appeal against SHC's order. The bench upheld the model should be allowed to travel abroad.
Case of exit control: Top court reserves ruling in Ayyan case
Further, the top court while issuing the judgment, observed that mere pendency of a criminal case cannot serve as a justification to prohibit Ayyan's movement.
The order stated that it has never been the case of the government that Ayyan 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, in as much 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,” the court said.
Disagreeing with Ayyan's counsel, the three-judge bench added that remedy by way of review is inadequate or illusory because such arguments would tend to defeat the letter and spirit of Section 3 of the Ordinance.
Ayyan’s name to stay on no-fly list
Ayyan had requested the apex court to quash a petition filed by the federal government against Sindh High Court’s March 7 order, calling for the removal of her name from the ECL.
The supermodel was arrested by customs officials from Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Islamabad on March 14, 2015 after $506,800 was recovered from her luggage. She was released from Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi after almost four months in detention. She has already been indicted in the money laundering case but denies the charges.
Further, SC on April 6 reserved judgment on the federal government’s appeal against SHC to remove Ayyan’s name from the ECL. She is under trial on money laundering charges and currently on bail.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan has expressed wonder that what terrible thing will happen if she goes out of the country. He remarked that a person can go abroad even on pleasure trip.
The judge while referring to Pervez Musharraf‘s departure case has also observed that there should not be different principles for one person and the other, adding that she (Ayyan) should not be discriminated as the government could not have discriminatory policy.
Ayyan files 'desperate' plea in SC to leave country
The three-member bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal was hearing the Customs Collectors appeal. The Sindh High Court on March 7 ordered the secretary ministry of interior to immediately remove model’s name from the ECL and submit compliance report within 14 days. However, the Collector Customs challenged that order in the apex court. Later interior ministry also impleaded this case.
In March 2015, customs officials arrested the supermodel at Islamabad airport, upon recovering $506,800 from her luggage. Ayyan later denied any role in money laundering. She was released from Adiala prison in Rawalpindi after spending almost four months in detention.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Justice Ejaz asked the counsel for Customs Collectorate is there any apprehension that the model would not come back.