- IHC directs FIA to remove PTI leaders’ names from stop list immediately.
- Seeks report from FIA DG and interior secretary.
- FIA officials seek extension for submission of a reply.
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday advised the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general (DG) to refrain from harassing anyone, ordering the agency to remove the names of PTI leaders from the stop list immediately.
The remark came during the hearing of the petitions challenging the placement of PTI leaders Shahbaz Gill, Shahzad Akbar and others’ names on the stop list.
FIA had placed the names of key aides of former prime minister Imran Khan, including PM’s former principal secretary Azam Khan, ex-special assistant to PM on political communication Shahbaz Gill, ex-adviser to PM on interior and accountability Shahzad Akbar, Punjab Director-General Gohar Nafees, and FIA’s Punjab Zone DG Mohammad Rizwan.
Gill, Akbar, FIA law director and joint interior secretary appeared before the court.
At the outset of the hearing, the law director informed the court that he had received a request from the FIA Islamabad zone on April 8, indicating an extraordinary situation in the country.
At this, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah inquired if martial law had been imposed in the country.
Meanwhile, the FIA official maintained that two separate inquiries had been registered. The court inquired if a new FIA has replaced the old one, noting that the agency regularly attends this court.
“This is a serious matter. The court will never allow action based on vengeance [former against govt officials],” IHC CJ Minallah remarked.
Meanwhile, the petitioners’ counsel informed the court that the authorities didn’t comply with judicial orders as Gill and Akbar’s names are still on the stop list.
The court reprimanded the FIA official, asking when the agency became independent enough to launch an inquiry against government officials.
At this, the FIA official said that they received the court’s orders for removing the names from the stop list late as the officials had gone to offer taraveeh prayers.
However, the official assured the court that the orders will be followed now.
During the hearing, Akbar asked the court to question the FIA if it launched the inquiry against the civil servants whose names are on the stop list.
“Ask them if they want us to move to Adiala [jail] on our own,” he said.
At this, IHC CJ Minallah asked if Akbar wants to go to jail.
Akbar said while responding to the question that they “might have to go to jail if the situation remained the same.”
Responding to this comment, Gill’s lawyer said that his client does not maintain such a statement.
Justice Minallah extended the stay, suspending the FIA’s flight ban and directed the agency to remove the names from the stop list. Meanwhile, the FIA officials sought an extension for submission of a reply.
The court directed the FIA DG and interior secretary to submit a report on the matter and adjourned the hearing till April 18.
IHC suspends flight ban on ex-PM Imran Khan’s aides
IHC suspended the FIA’s notification of a flight ban on six PTI leaders on Tuesday.
IHC’s Chief Justice Athar Minaullah also suspended the ban against former principal secretary Azam Khan, Imran’s ex-focal person on digital media Dr Arslan Khalid, and Mohammad Nafees Gohar.
The IHC issued a notification to the interior secretary and the director-general of the FIA, and further ordered them to reveal the authority under which the petitioners’ names had been placed on the ‘stop list’ — being on the list bars them from travelling abroad without permission.
Justice Minallah further demanded the FIA provide proof that this action wasn’t an act of revenge against ex-PM Imran Khan’s aides.
What is a ‘stop list’?
The FIA introduced a system of ‘stop list’ in 2003 to stop unwanted people from trying to leave the country in the shortest possible time as placing someone’s name on ECL takes a long time.