ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the reservations raised by Hussain Nawaz regarding two members of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to probe the Panama Papers case as per the apex court’s instructions.
A three-member special bench of the Supreme Court headed by Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan heard the application filed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son Hussain Nawaz.
In his application Hussain raised objections against Bilal Rasool of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Amer Aziz of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
He had earlier expressed apprehensions that the presence of these officers might affect the fairness and impartiality of the JIT and its findings.
In his application, Hussain alleged that Rasool is a nephew of Mian Mohammad Azhar, whose family is Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) supporters.
Hussain also objected to the inclusion of Aziz, who was also part of a National Accountability Bureau investigation which was carried out into the Hudabiya Paper Mills scam under former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf’s regime.
During the course of proceedings, Khawaja Haris counsel for Hussain Nawaz alleged that the behaviour of the two members of the JIT has been abusive, humiliating, arrogant, intimidatory and derogatory manner.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan dismissing the accusations ordered the JIT to continue with its proceedings and operate within its jurisdiction.
Justice Azmat Saeed observed that the two members of the JIT who had been pointed out by Hussain in his application were experts in the white-collar crime.
“We will neither change any member of the JIT, nor we will prevent someone from doing their work,” he remarked, drawing attention to the fact that a special bench of the Supreme Court had appointed the members of the JIT. “Whether it is the prime minister or an ordinary citizen, nobody is above the law,” he added.
At the outset of hearing, the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Additional Director General Wajid Zia, who heads the JIT, told the bench that Qatari royal prince Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani had not yet appeared before the JIT.
However, the court asked the JIT not to hurt the self-respect of those appearing before it.
The bench also directed President National Bank (NBP) Saeed Ahmed to appear before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on Tuesday at any cost. The bench remarked that if anyone hesitates in appearing before the JIT, arrest warrant of such person should be issued.
Khawaja Haris pleaded that there should be balance in treatment of witnesses and investigation. He added that Prime Minister’s cousin Tariq Shafi was made to sit for 13 hours. The JIT should work as per law, he urged.
He alleged that Tariq Shafi was pressured to withdraw his affidavit, which is against the law.He also raised objection on the procedure of recording statements by the JIT.
Upon this the bench remarked that the court was against harnessing anyone. Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan remarked that the JIT’s mandate was to obtain evidence and record statements.
He added that the whole proceeding of the JIT would be presented before the court.
“It is up to the court what to accept or reject. You may submit objections over the JIT proceedings and findings,” the judge remarked.—APP