NA committee gives nod to ECL bill

Proposed law makes it mandatory to notify a person whose name is placed on no-fly list


Saqib Virk November 04, 2020

ISLAMABAD:

A parliamentary panel has approved the Exit from Pakistan (Control) (Amendment) Bill, 2019 – a proposed law under which authorities will notify the person whose name is placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) – the country’s no-fly list – within seven days.

The authorities will also have to decide an appeal against any such order in 30 days.

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice meeting, chaired by MNA Riaz Fatyana, passed the bill in its meeting held on Tuesday.

Discussing the bill, MNA Naveed Qamar said when the authorities put a person’s name on the ECL, he is not notified and he comes to know this when he goes to the airport to fly abroad.

“It is necessary to inform such a person about the reason for this move. So that he or she may appeal against the decision in 15 days. This is a simple legislation which should be approved,” he said.

Qamar said when the name of a businessman is placed on the ECL, his business is ruined. There is a need to end this monarchic practice. He said the person whose name has been put on the ECL should also be given a chance for representation.

A representative of the law ministry said no rules existed for putting someone's name on the ECL but now the rules had been framed and the new rules included all proposed amendments. He said the bill relates to the Ministry of Interior and asked the committee to refer the bill to the ministry.

MNA Qamar, however, objected to the suggestion and said the committee in its previous meeting passed a bill related to the Ministry of Energy but the Ministry of Law had not suggested then to refer that bill to the energy ministry.

“Kindly, don’t employ double standards. The bill has long been passed by the Senate,” he said.

The committee chairman said the upper house has approved the bill. “What is the harm in informing the committee within 24 hours,” Fatyana said.

A member of the committee Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha said only 3% to 4% of the people against whom the top anti-graft watchdog – the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) – has filed references are politicians. He said the people who are actually affected by NAB cases are businessmen.

He said the people whose names are put on the ECL should also be allowed to challenge the order and such appeal be decided in 15 days. “The ECL restrictions have also hit the businessmen the most.”

The committee chairman proposed that the authorities inform the person whose name has been placed on the ECL within 7 days and the authorities must decide the appeal against this decision in 30 days. After incorporation of the proposal, the committee passed the bill with a majority vote.

The committee also deliberated on Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill, 2019 moved by MNA Dr Nafisa Shah. The committee directed the Ministry of Law officials to present within three weeks the formula for increasing seats in the provincial bar councils.

The panel also discussed Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2019 (Article 179). However, as the mover of the bill was not present in the meeting, the committee excluded the bill.

WITH INPUT FROM APP

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