Monday, July 10, 2017
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court's special implementation bench proceeded with the Panama Papers case on Monday after the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) submitted its final probe report.
The report, spread over 10 volumes, was brought in two cartons which were carried on a trolley into the apex court.
After the report's submission, the bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and including Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, ordered the registration of FIR against Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Chairman Zafar Hijazi.
The Federal Investigation Agency had informed the court over the weekend that its inquiry had found Hijazi guilty of tampering records of SECP's probe into the Chaudhry Sugar Mills, owned by the Sharif family.
Regarding Hussain Nawaz's plea to the special bench to form a judicial commission into the leaking of his JIT interrogation picture, the bench observed that the government may form a commission on the issue if it chooses to.
Justice Ejaz also ordered that the person who leaked the picture should be identified.
The JIT had earlier informed the bench that the person responsible for leaking the premier's son's picture, which went viral on social media last month, had been sent back to his parent department where appropriate action was taken against him.
Taking notice of news reports published in the Daily Jang and The News, the bench issued contempt of court notices to the Jang Group’s Editor in Chief Mir-Shakil-ur Rehman, publisher Mir Javed Rehman and The News reporter Ahmed Noorani.
The bench has sought a clarification within seven days.
The bench also asked for transcripts of all speeches made in the last 60 days by PML-N's Talal Chaudhry, Federal Railways Minister Saad Rafique, and the PM's Special Assistant on Political Affairs Asif Kirmani, presumably to examine them for contemptuous content.
The JIT's head, FIA Additional Director Wajid Zia, pleaded to the court not to make volume 10 of the report public, which will be used for further investigation.
The apex court said JIT members will now go back to their parent departments where they will have complete freedom to continue their duties. In case they are harassed, they should approach the Supreme Court, it observed further.
The respondents and petitioners have been directed to approach the Supreme Court Registrar Office to acquire copies of the JIT’s final probe report, which will likely not include volume 10 of the report. The bench also ordered to provide the attorney general with a copy of the report.
The hearing of the case has been adjourned till July 17.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, PML-N leader Daniyal Aziz said the real case was not discussed during today's proceedings. Aziz asked what was hidden in volume 10 of the JIT's report, as he stressed that the entire report should be made public.
According to the PML-N leader, no action over the leaked Panama Papers had taken place anywhere in the world.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry called for the immediate arrest of the SECP chairman after the order issued by the Supreme Court.
Fawad Chaudhry stressed that the probe of SECP Chairman Zafar Hijazi should probe who issued the orders for tampering.
“Zafar Hijazi’s boss is Ishaq Dar, therefore it is likely that SECP Chairman Zafar Hijazi did tampering at the behest of Ishaq Dar,” the PTI leader told journalists.
Earlier in the day, the JIT members held what would be their last session at the Federal Judicial Academy and reviewed the final report of their investigation, before its submission to the apex court.
The JIT, formed on May 5 in light of the Supreme Court’s April 20 judgment, was tasked to ascertain the money trail of the Sharif family-owned properties in Park Lane, London.
The members of the high-profile probe team were busy over the weekend preparing the report, according to sources.
The JIT included State Bank of Pakistan's Amer Aziz, Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan's Bilal Rasool, Military Intelligence's Brig Kamran Khursheed, Inter Services Intelligence's Brig (retd) Nauman Saeed and National Accountability Bureau's Irfan Mangi.
Authorities issued a red alert for the federal capital's Red Zone, where the Supreme Court is located, and strict security measures were in place in light of the JIT’s report submission.
Additional contingents of police and Rangers were deployed both inside and outside the Supreme Court premises, officials said. Islamabad SSP security said around 500 police personnel have been deployed for security duty in and around the apex court.
Authorities feared the law and order situation could deteriorate in case supporters of both Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) amass at the venue.
In a last-ditch effort to press the Sharif family’s case, top PML-N leaders addressed the media at separate events across the country on Sunday.
Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique was speaking to a gathering in Lahore, where he said that he knows who is playing against the ruling party.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif addressed a gathering in Sialkot, where he demanded that the JIT proceedings should be made public so the entire nation should know what the JIT asked from the premier.
Meanwhile, responding to the ministers' remarks, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said the government ministers threatened not to accept the verdict of the Supreme Court, as they said the JIT report without the Qatari prince's statement is 'unacceptable' to them.
Speaking to media on Sunday, the PTI chief expressed apprehensions that he sees a situation leading to an attack on the apex court developing, similar to the PML-N assault on the apex court in 1997.
The JIT spent over 60 days on its probe. Below is a timeline of the JIT's work from its formation on May 5 till the submission of its final report today: