Monday December 11, 2023

SHC rejects Hareem Shah’s plea for protection against FIA’s money laundering inquiry

September 30, 2022

Observing that TikTok Hareem Shah had previously misused a court protection order, the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday turned down her petition seeking protection against a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) inquiry pertaining to money laundering charges.

Hareem, who has been abroad for a year, had again approached the SHC for obtaining protection order with regard to the FIA inquiry into money laundering charges. A counsel for the petitioner submitted that the FIA had issued a notice to her over her social media video in which she claimed clearing immigration to travel abroad with a large amount of foreign exchange without any check.

The FIA had directed the TikTok star to appear before the investigation agency as her video defamed the country and acknowledged the offence of money laundering. The counsel submitted that Hareem, who had more than 6.5 million followers on social media sites, had already tendered an apology for the video clip on different electronic media channels.

He submitted that the petitioner had earlier been granted a stay order by the court against the FIA proceedings but she could not travel to Pakistan due to her health issues. The counsel submitted that the petitioner and her spouse were now intending to appear and surrender before the FIA but apprehended their arrest at the hands of the FIA.

He submitted that the petitioner was in Sri Lanka presently and would reach Karachi by October 3. The lawyer requested the high court to restrain the FIA from arresting the petitioner in the context of an FIA call up notice issued on January 13.

A division bench of the high court headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha after perusal of a previous court order observed that the petitioner had earlier applied for suspension of the same notice and the court had ordered that no coercive action be taken against her.

The high court observed that the petitioner had a fair opportunity to come back to the country and join the inquiry and the high court had also been informed that she would do so. The bench observed that once again the petitioner had approached the court for the same relief in the same notice issued by the FIA. The high court observed that it was not inclined to exercise its discretion to give relief in favour of the petitioner as prima facie she had earlier misused the order of the court.

The SHC observed that in case the petitioner had only received a call-up notice by the FIA, she may return to Pakistan and join the inquiry. Stating that the petitioner was not entitled to get relief as she had already misused the court order, the high court dismissed the petition.