KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) ruled on Thursday that the federal government authorities' decision to offload activist Jibran Nasir and his wife, actress Mansha Pasha, from a Dubai-bound flight was done "without lawful authority".
A two-member bench, comprising Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto and Justice Kausar Sultana Hussain, also declared that the federal government’s decision to include the lawyer and the actress on its “Watch List” was done “without lawful authority" and holds “no legal effect”.
It also directed the authorities to allow both Nasir and Pasha to travel abroad without any “obstruction or hindrance”.
In its six-page verdict, the bench concluded that the deputy attorney general “failed to produce any incriminating material against the petitioners” which had led to their inclusion on the “Watch List”.
The SHC also stated that if the government wants to stop anyone from leaving Pakistan then it “must be exercised by means of an order” and it should be communicated to the affected individuals as soon as such a decision is taken.
“This means that if any order is passed but the same is not communicated to the person concerned, it would be a case of arbitrary exercise of power if the order is kept secret only to surprise the person later the moment he is leaving the country. It appears that the phrase "Watch List" is a mere euphemism for Exit Control List as in either case the FIA exercises its authority to ensure that the person in question does not leave the country,” said the order. It added that if a person is placed in the ECL or watch list then as per law they have to be given an opportunity of a hearing.
“So far as the facts of the present cases are concerned, inclusion of petitioners’ names in the Watch List was done Secretively as the petitioners were never served with any notice that their names were included in the Watch List let alone providing them an opportunity of hearing before placing them in the Watch List. On these grounds alone, the acts of the Ministry of Interior/FIA culminating in the off-loading of the petitioners, who are husband and wife, from the plane was without lawful authority,” concluded the SHC.
The two-member bench, on the question of putting a person on the watchlist, stated that the court cannot “lose sight of the fact that under Article 15 of the Constitution freedom of movement was one of the fundamental rights guaranteed to every citizen of the country, which could not be abridged or denied arbitrarily on the mere liking of disliking, without any lawful justification for such purpose”
Nasir and his wife had approached the SHC after they were offloaded from a Dubai-bound flight on June 27.
In the petition they had prayed to the court that Nasir and Pasha had cleared the immigration however, they were stopped from travelling by the authorities without giving any reason.
“On 27th June my wife and I were scheduled to travel to Dubai via Emirates EK601 to visit my Family for Eid and we were scheduled to return to Karachi on 5th July," Nasir said on social media platform X.
"We checked in our luggage, got boarding passes, cleared immigration and got the exit stamps but while approaching the Departure Lounge we were called by an FIA official who appeared to be receiving instructions from someone on his phone,” he said.
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