The Supreme Court on Thursday directed former SSP Rao Anwar to resubmit his review petition seeking omission of his name from the Exit-Control List (ECL) as well as the earlier court order to keep his name on the no-fly list.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial, who was heading the three-member bench, asked the counsel representing Anwar that why a former police officer wants to go abroad. “Does he run a business abroad?” the judge asked. “He wants to meet his family,” Malik Naeem Iqbal, the counsel for Anwar responded to the bench.
Dawn Investigations: Rao Anwar and the killing fields of Karachi
Anwar is accused of being involved in the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud — an aspiring model and shopkeeper from South Waziristan — and others in a fake police encounter in Karachi, but is currently out on bail. He had petitioned the court to have his name removed from the ECL on account of performing Umrah and attending the wedding of his daughter abroad but the apex court had rejected the plea. He then filed a review petition against the verdict.
Earlier this year, he retired from police service while being suspended and facing trial for killing four men, including Mehsud, in a fake encounter last year.
The counsel for Anwar contended during today’s hearing that a court of law had granted bail to his client but later his name was put of the ECL. The counsel also referred to the case of former dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf who had been allowed to go abroad.
Justice Bandial said that there was a process to get names struck off from the ECL but the counsel wants the name to be removed just because Anwar was on bail.
Justice Faisal Arab remarked that the counsel claims there was no other first information report or inquiry against the accused but newspapers reported otherwise.
Faisal Siddiqui, the counsel for Mehsud’s father, said that the National Accountability Bureau had already launched an inquiry against Anwar pertaining to assets beyond known sources of income.
When asked about further inquiries, the counsel for Anwar admitted that multiple things were in progress pertaining to the killings of 444 people.
“Many cases of this nature are pending. The court is not hearing this case [at this point],” Justice Bandial said and adjourned the hearing of the case for an indefinite period.
Details of review petition
In his review petition, Anwar has pleaded that the court did not notice an important aspect of the matter that the petitioner’s involvement in the crime was far-fetched and was based upon assumptions, surmises and conjectures. “There is no likelihood of trial concluding in near future inasmuch as even charge has not been framed so far and there are about seventy witnesses. Therefore, the impugned order has the effect of indefinite restriction on movement of the petitioner, which is gross violation of his fundamental rights.”
It also points out that the petitioner has been granted bail by the trial court against solvent surety and his passport has also been deposited with trial court. The petitioner is regularly attending trial court and he cannot be subjected to unreasonable restriction on his movement till conclusion of the trial which is not possible in near future.
It says the court completely ignored the compulsion of the petitioner to travel abroad inasmuch as his entire family is settled abroad and he is required to fulfil his fatherly obligations towards his sons and daughters. Given his active participation in eradicating the menace of terrorism, he has serious security threats and it is impossible for him to travel freely in Pakistan along with family or to hold any family function. The impugned order, with due respect, has deprived the petitioner of his right to life, right to move abroad freely and right to have equal protection of law, the petition argues.
It pleads that there is sheer discrimination with the petitioner viz-a-viz placing his name on the ECL inasmuch as in other identical high-profile criminal cases, name of accused persons are not put on the ECL for obvious reason that law does not support.
It says that in the impugned order, the court completely overlooked the principle of law that registration of FIR or pendency of a case was not sufficient reason to curtail or abridge fundamental right of freedom of movement of an accused person.