ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC), upholding an earlier Sindh High Court ruling, ordered supermodel Ayyan Ali’s name to be struck off the Exit Control List (ECL) on Wednesday.
After the Sindh High Court (SHC) directed authorities to remove Ayyan’s name from the ECL earlier in March, Islamabad customs collectors challenged the decision in the apex court.
The apex court disposed off the petition, observing that the constitution does not allow for restriction of citizen’s movements.
The SC said there was no reason her name should remain on the ECL as she had regularly been attending hearings pertaining to a case of currency smuggling at the customs court in Rawalpindi and cooperating with law enforcement authorities.
The model had approached the court in December 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.
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 Mar 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.
A case surrounded by controversy
The case involving Ayyan, a well-known face who has endorsed prominent brands, garnered unprecedented media attention due to her celebrity status and the controversies surrounding it.
The case took a political turn when the airport entry pass of the personal assistant (PA) to a former president was cancelled for allegedly trying to facilitate Ayyan’s suspected attempt to smuggle money.
Later in June, a customs official who was allegedly investigating the money laundering case against the model was shot dead.
The model was granted a category B ‘VIP’ inmate at Adiala which entitled her to several privileges not available to other inmates because she was “not habitual of a less-than-comfortable lifestyle”.
Her counsel, former Punjab governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa earlier said his client had been arrested on false charges of money laundering. He claimed that the Customs Act lacked interpretation of attempted money laundering and that the petitioner had not been allowed to record her statement after the arrest, which was mandatory under Section 139 of the act.
The model’s counsel had said she told investigators at the initial stages of the investigation that she had acquired the money by selling property. He said the petitioner carried the money to the airport to hand it over to her brother who was arriving from Dubai the same day.
Courtesy : Dawn News