The Lahore High Court (LHC) has ruled on the petitions against the blacklisting of two citizens facing FIA cases and declared the move illegal.
Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh has ruled that the accused cannot be deprived of the right to travel abroad if the case is not decided.
The court declared para 51 of the Passport and Visa Manual 2006 null and void.
Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh issued a 21-page written judgment on separate petitions filed against the blacklisting of Shaan Elahi and Syed Anwar Shah.
The ruling states that the fundamental right to travel is universally recognized as a basic human right. Under Article 13 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone is allowed to visit any state. Article 15 of the Constitution of Pakistan also speaks of Freedom of Movement. Under this article, every citizen has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the law. ‘The court ruled that Article 15 made it clear that the sanctions imposed were not only reasonable but also in the public interest.
The decision states that under section 8 of the Passport Act, a passport is the property of the federal government which has the right to withdraw or cancel it from a citizen. However, under subsection two, the federal government is required to issue a notice to the citizen two weeks prior to issuing the order. However, under sub-section three, if the federal government has clear evidence that the person concerned is involved in any illegal activity which is against the country, then show cause notice is not required.
The decision clarifies that in the present cases, the federal government has neither demanded nor canceled the passports from the petitioners.
Applicants were prosecuted under Section 51 of the Passport and Visa Manual 2006. Section 8 of the Passport Act empowers the federal government only to cancel or confiscate passports. Blacklisting is a very different matter and has a different meaning. Is.’
Justice Tariq Salem Sheikh wrote in the judgment that the Interior Ministry had issued manual passport and visa procedure. Section 13 empowers the federal government to make rules through the Official Gazette while it also authorizes the government to issue notifications for the efficient functioning of departments and offices. It is also decided that such notifications and directives should not be unconstitutional.
The decision states that Passport Rules 1974 is also silent on paragraph 51 of the Passport and Visa Manual 2006, therefore paragraph 51 is declared illegal.
According to the decision, the Deputy Attorney General stated that the effects of repealing paragraph 51 would be dire. However, the court clarified that it has to decide the cases in accordance with the law.
The decision further stated that the FIA stated that it had blacklisted at the behest of the Special Central Court while the Central Court had clarified that no such order had been issued.
There is no denying that justice must be done in the public interest, but the facts of each case are different and the federal government cannot cancel, confiscate or blacklist such passports. Every case should be thoroughly reviewed before taking extreme measures.
The court held that there was no justification for blacklisting the petitioner Shah Elahi. Petitioner Anwar Shah’s case has not been decided yet but this ground cannot deprive anyone of the right to travel abroad. The court said that while granting both the petitions, the act of blacklisting was declared illegal.
According to the petitioner, the FIA registered a case against Shaan Elahi and his brother Irfan Elahi for sending a citizen abroad. However, the FIA later discharged both the accused from the case.
The plaintiff filed a suit against both the accused in the Special Central Court, however, the accused had gone abroad in the meantime. The court had declared both the accused admissible for not appearing in the prosecution.
The court directed the DG FIA to issue directions at all immigration points. The Deputy Director FIA blacklisted the accused under paragraph 51 of the Passport and Visa Manual 2006.
Irfan Elahi came to Pakistan after some time and faced the law and cleared himself. Petitioner Shaan Elahi is still at large and is in Dubai. The passport of the applicant expired in 2020 and could not be renewed due to being blacklisted.
In the second petition, the petitioner took the position that Anwar Shah and his wife are overseas Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia.
Some time ago, when the wife of the petitioner came to Pakistan on a six-week visit, on her return, she was stopped at the airport and told that her husband had been advertised and blacklisted in one case.
The FIA arrested the wife but the court granted bail. After some time, the petitioner also came to Pakistan and faced the case and got bail from the court. The petitioner had filed a petition against being blacklisted.