Supreme Court directs Rao Anwar to file ECL plea afresh

ISLAMABAD. May 16 (INP): The Supreme Court on Thursday directed Rao Anwar, former senior official of Sindh police and key suspect in the Naqeebullah Mehsud killing case, to file a review petition afresh, challenging its verdict that rejected his plea for removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL).

A bench of apex court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial directed Anwar’s lawyer to file a review petition afresh, attaching a relevant court order.

There is a procedure for having a name removed from the no-fly list, the judge explained, questioning the former police officer’s lawyer to explain as to why his client wants to go abroad.

The lawyer says that there is no inquiry pending against the former cop but news reports say otherwise, Justice Bandial remarked.

On Jan 10, a three-judge SC bench headed by then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar had dismissed former SSP Malir Anwar’s plea seeking removal of his name from the ECL.

Anwar, who retired from police service on Jan 1, is facing trial for allegedly killing four men, including South Waziristan youngster Naqeebullah Mehsud, in a fake encounter last year.

A bench of the apex court headed by then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar had rejected the former cop’s plea. “We cannot strike his name off the ECL,” asserted the then top judge. He expressed displeasure over provision of facilities to the accused and asked how did he get acquitted?

When Justice Nisar was told that the former SSP-Malir was out on bail, he then questioned, “If he was released on bail why was he given passport?”

Anwar’s lawyer told the judges that his client’s passport was already in authorities’ possession. “His family lives abroad and he wants to meet them as well as perform Umrah.”

The chief justice rejected his request, saying his family be asked to return to the country to live with him. “He has killed a young boy. Rao Anwar will stay in Pakistan until trial is over.”

The former SSP in the petition said that he wished to perform Umrah and meet his family but cannot fly out of the country owing to his name placed on the no-fly list. He assured that he will continue attending the trial regularly.

“My movement abroad will not cause any hindrance, delay, or impediment in the proceedings of the court,” he argued. “Mere registration of an FIR or a pending criminal trial is not a valid reason to put the accused person in the ECL.”

The former SSP Malir along with DSP Qamar Ahmed Shaikh, and several other officials was booked for killing four men, including Mehsud, in a fake encounter in Shah Latif Town on Jan 13, 2018.

The Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice of the incident after protest by the civil society and outrage over social media. Anwar was arrested in March 2018 when he appeared before the Supreme Court after over a month of hiding. He spent more than three months in prison before an anti-terrorism court released him on bail.