Inquiries in NICL scam

Jurists believe a report shall be submitted to the chief justice who will decide how to proceed.

Faisal Shakeel August 01, 2011

The judiciary has been walking the tightrope with the doctrine of “judicial restraint” in one hand and the desire to shake off corruption in the other. The latest order in the NICL scam shows that the judiciary is inclined not to get bogged down in the balancing act and get on with pursuing corruption cases.

During the proceedings, leading to the detailed order, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry had conveyed his displeasure to the prime minister through the attorney general over the transfer of the investigators of the scam. The three-judge bench, headed by the Chief Justice, had repeated its orders several times that Additional Director-General Zafar Qureshi and his team be restored to their posts but to no avail.

Instead, Mr Qureshi was suspended on charges of leaking to the press a letter he had written to the FIA DG against the transfer of his colleagues to Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Mr Qureshi had also informed the court that the PML-Q leadership had threatened him with dire consequences if he furthered his probe linking Moonis Elahi to the scam. The latter’s arrest had propelled the PML-Q to join the PPP in the centre despite the fact that the latter had accused its leadership of having a hand in former premier Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

The Supreme Court has not only restored Mr Qureshi as the investigator of the scam but also widened the scope of the entire case by ordering a judicial inquiry into allegations of political influence in his transfer. The Court saw an advertisement, questioning the logic in keeping Moonis Elahi behind bars, and which was run on several private television channels as a deliberate campaign to malign it.

The apex court has empowered Justice Ghulam Rabbani to collect evidence and ascertain whether or not Interior Minister Rehman Malik and others used their influence to derail the investigation.

Upon completion of the inquiry, jurists believe, a report shall be submitted to the chief justice, who would then decide how to proceed against the persons named in the inquiry report. They do not rule out contempt proceedings against those responsible. To what extent the bureaucracy cooperates with Justice Rabbani is a big question mark. After all the entire order of the court in the NICL scam revolves around what the judiciary says the executive’s interference in the affairs of the judiciary.

Faisal Shakeel An Islamabad based correspondent for Express 24/7
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