LAHORE: The federal government’s decision to require that artists, students and journalists obtain a no objection certificate (NOC) before travelling abroad was challenged in the Lahore High Court on Monday.
The petition was filed by Advocate Noshab A Khan who submitted that with a computerised national identity card and passport there was no need for an NOC.
Contending that the decision would harm the image of the country, he said that it was an attempt to stifle free expression and unreasonably restrict the movements of people. The petitioner submitted that the decision would take the country back to the Zia era when such undemocratic and retrogressive conditions were imposed.
The federal government, he said, had no right to restrict the movement of people who were not in its service. Such decisions violate basic human rights enshrined in the constitution and are bound to be counter productive and, the petitioner contended. Khan submitted that obtaining an NOC was a hassle even for government employees, “one can imagine what students and artists would have to go through in order to secure foreign visas”, the petitioner said.
According to the petitioner NOCs would allow the respondent to have a final say about who can and cannot travel abroad.
The petitioner also questioned safeguards which would be in place to prevent discrimination. He prayed that the respondent’s decision be declared illegal.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2011.
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