The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday suspended its order for removing model Ayyan Ali’s name off the Exit Control List (ECL) for two days.
Hours after SHC’s Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto ordered authorities to remove the model’s name from ECL, Additional Attorney General Salman Talibuddin prayed the court to suspend its order for 10 days as the federal government intended to challenge the judgement in the Supreme Court.
Accepting the government’s request, the court suspended its order on Ayyan’s application for 10 days.
Justice Phulpoto was appointed as a referee judge by SHC Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah last month to decide Ayyan’s petition after one of the judges on a division bench approved the model’s plea, while the other rejected it.
The interior ministry on a court direction had removed her name from the ECL, but her name was again included in the list after a few hours.
The model later filed a contempt of court application against the federal government for not allowing her to travel abroad despite the court had directed the authorities to strike her name off the ECL.
The model had approached the court initially in December 2015 requesting the removal of her name from the ECL. Her counsel maintained that having her name on the ECL was illegal as authorities had returned her passport.
During a hearing of her case last year, the model said she was required to travel abroad for professional assignments and medical treatment, and since she had been released from jail on bail, her name should be struck off the ECL.
She said the authorities’ decision to disallow her from travelling abroad was a violation of her fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 18 of the Constitution.
A customs court in Nov 2015 indicted Ayyan for attempting to smuggle more than half a million dollars in cash out of the country, to which she has pleaded not guilty.
The model was arrested on March 14, 2015, on charges of money laundering after customs officials recovered $506,000 from her luggage at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport before she could reportedly board a flight to Dubai.
She was granted bail in July last year after spending around four months in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail — and after her judicial remand was extended at least 16 times.
The case against the model took a political turn when the airport entry pass of the personal assistant to a former president was cancelled for allegedly trying to facilitate Ayyan’s suspected attempt to smuggle money.
Later in June 2015, a customs official who was allegedly investigating the money laundering case against the model was shot dead.