Thursday Apr 20, 2017
The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a Joint Investigation Team to conduct a probe into funds used by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's children to buy properties in London through offshore businesses.
Citing the 'indifference' and 'unwillingness' of the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau in its verdict on the Panama leaks case, a five-member Supreme Court bench said there were still questions "which go to the heart of the matter and need to be answered".
"A thorough investigation in this behalf is required," said Justice Asif Saeed Khosa as he read out the court's decision ordering a JIT to submit its report in 60 days.
But who exactly will be part of this key investigation team and when will the investigation begin?
According to the verdict, the six-member team will comprise of the following officers:
A senior Officer of the Federal Investigation Agency, who will not be below the rank of Additional Director General. Having firsthand experience of investigation of white collar crime, the FIA officer will head the investigation team.
Despite expressing their lack of trust in the National Accountability Bureau chairman to investigate the matter, a representative of NAB will also be part of the six-member JIT.
A nominee of the Security & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). Having investigative and enforcement powers, the SECP is responsible for regulation and supervision of the corporate sector, capital market, insurance companies, and non-banking finance companies.
Here, the SECP will play his part in the investigation team as he would be familiar with issues of money laundering and white collar crimes.
As the probe involves a lot of financial transactions, an official of the country's central bank will also be on the investigation team.
The Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, will also be represented by on the team by a seasoned officer nominated by ISI Director-General Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar.
The Military Intelligence will also be part of the team, with a seasoned officer nominated by its director-general.
As soon as the team is constituted.
The Supreme Court said that heads of the six mentioned departments and institutions shall recommend names of their nominees for the JIT within seven days. By next week, names of the six nominated officer will be placed before the apex court bench for their approval, following which the probe shall begin.
In short, the investigation into corruption allegations against the prime minister may begin after one week.
Whether the asset owned by Sharif or his children are disproportionate to the supplied sources of income.
"The JIT shall investigate the case and collect evidence, if any, showing that respondent No.1 [Nawaz Sharif] or any of his dependents or benamidars owns, possesses or has acquired assets or any interest therein disproportionate to his known means of income."
The verdict orders Nawaz Sharif, and his two sons Hasan and Hussein Nawaz to "appear and associate themselves with the JIT as and when required".
"The JIT may also examine the evidence and material, if any, already available with the FIA and NAB relating to or having any nexus with the possession or acquisition of the aforesaid flats or any other assets or pecuniary resources and their origin."
The order has tasked the investigation team to submit a report every two weeks to a special bench of the Supreme Court.
The JIT is required to complete its investigation and submit its report to the special Supreme Court bench within sixty days from the date of the team's formation.
"The Bench thereupon may pass appropriate orders in exercise of its powers under Articles 184(3), 187(2) and 190 of the Constitution including an order for filing a reference against respondent No.1 [Nawaz Sharif] and any other person having nexus with the crime if justified on the basis of the material thus brought on the record before it," says the SC order.
The matter of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's disqualification may still be considered "upon receipt of the reports, periodic or final of the JIT, as the case may be".
"If found necessary for passing an appropriate order in this behalf, respondent No.1 [Nawaz Sharif] or any other person may be summoned and examined," it adds.
The special bench, to be constituted by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, will "ensure implementation of this judgment so that the investigation into the allegations may not be left in a blind alley".