LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has directed the federal interior ministry to decide within seven days a request from PML-N Vice President Maryam Safdar seeking removal of her name from the no-fly list as she wants to travel to London to see her ailing father.
A division bench of the LHC – headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi – also issued notice to the respondent NAB for Dec 16 on Maryam’s civil miscellaneous application in which she has sought return of her passport and one-time permission to fly to London for six weeks to see Nawaz Sharif.
When the proceedings started on Monday, the petitioner Maryam Safdar’s counsels Advocates Amjad Pervez and Azam Nazir Tarar argued that there were dozens of court judgments in similar cases in which petitioners had been granted permission to travel abroad.
Justice Najafi asked the counsels, “Did you file a review application?” They responded in the negative. “We have just knocked at the doors of the honorable court,” they said. “You should file a review before coming here,” Justice Najafi remarked.
He asked if a review could be filed in the case of Nawaz Sharif, then why not in Maryam’s matter. To this, Advocate Tarar said Nawaz’s matter was pending in the LHC when “Allah gave the government Hadayat (guidance)”. “We believe Allah will give them Hadayat this time too,” he added.
Justice Najafi remarked in a lighter vein that Allah gives Hadayat when an angel comes. This triggered laughter in the courtroom.
Advocate Pervez argued that the media statements of cabinet ministers have revealed the government’s mindset. “Don’t rely on media reports. Argue on the law instead of quoting political players,” Justice Najafi told the attorney.
Justice Najafi remarked that the matter should also have been discussed in cabinet before it was brought to the court. The lawyers argued that the petitioner, Maryam Nawaz, was seeking one-time permission to visit her ailing father and will return to Pakistan.
Justice Najafi, while reading out Section 3 of the ‘Exit from Pakistan (Control) Ordinance 1981, remarked that a review should be filed first before approaching the court. To this, Advocate Tarar prayed the court to send the petition as representation of his client to the concerned review committee.
Maryam Safdar petitioned the LHC on Saturday for grant of one-time permission to travel to London to see her ailing father. She requested the court to order removal of her name from the ECL and return of her passport.
Maryam was arrested by NAB on August 8 in a case regarding shady business transactions at the Chaudhry Sugar Mills where she is a major shareholder. On Nov 4, she was granted bail by the LHC which ordered her to furnish two surety bonds worth Rs20 million, and deposit an additional Rs70million and surrender her passport to secure her release.
In her petition, she said her father’s health was critical and she was under unexplainable stress because of her inability to be with him at a time when he needs extra care. She said her father is dependent on her.
She contended that her name was placed on the ECL without notice, which is violation of her fundamental rights. She contended that the “so-called recommendations” of NAB were acted upon in a mechanical manner and without judicious application of mind in contravention of the law.
She also contended that NAB’s or the government’s apprehensions about her absconding “does not appeal to reason in view of the petitioner’s track record”. She stressed that there was no default in appearance before the trial court over a period of one-and-a-half year and the petitioner and her father went abroad and came back even during the pendency of trial on more than one occasions.
The petitioner made the federal government, FIA (Immigration) director, NAB chairman, and others respondents in her petition filed under Article 199 of the Constitution, which confers wide powers of judicial review on the high courts.