ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday formed a six-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into the offshore business of the Sharif family in line with its April 20 verdict.
The officials included in the JIT are: Brigadier Nauman Saeed from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Brigadier Kamran Khurshid from the Military Intelligence (MI), Aamer Aziz from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Bilal Rasool from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Irfan Naeem Mangi from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Wajid Zia from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
“From the list submitted by the State Bank of Pakistan governor, we select and nominate Amer Aziz, an officer of BS-21, who is on deputation with NIBAF, as a member the JIT.
“We also examined the list submitted by the SECP chairman and deliberated over the names. We from the said list select and nominate Bilal Rasool, who is executive director, SECP, presently working at the commission’s secretariat, Media and Corporate Communication and Translation Department, as a member JIT.
“We have also examined the lists submitted by the NAB chairman. We after due deliberation select and nominate Irfan Naeem Mangi, Director (BS-20) as a member JIT.
“We also examined the list submitted by the director general ISI. We, after due thought and deliberation, select and nominate Brig Muhammad Nauman Saeed as a member of the JIT.
“We have also examined the list submitted by the Military Intelligence (M.I.). We after due consideration select and nominate Brig Kamran Khurshid as a Member JIT. We also examined the list submitted by the Director General, FIA. We having considered the background and antecedents of the Officers in the list decided to select and nominate Wajid Zia, Additional Director General (Immigration), FIA to head the JIT,” says the order passed by the special bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan.
The bench in its order has asked the JIT to commence and complete the investigation and submit its final report in terms of the April 20 verdict, wherein it was stated that the JIT will complete its investigation within 60 days from the date of formation. The Supreme Court has already framed eight questions which are supposed to be probed by the JIT.
The bench has asked the JIT to submit fortnightly progress reports as stipulated in its April 20 verdict. The case will be taken up on May 22. The Supreme Court has already directed the prime minister and his sons to appear before the JIT.
On the other hand, the Sharif family is considering hiring senior lawyer Khawaja Haris, who has vast experience in white-collar crime cases.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry welcomed the formation of JIT.
He told The Express Tribune that the PTI expected the JIT would complete its task within 60 days and no time extension would be sought. Fawad demanded that the JIT’s proceedings be opened for public, wherein the media should be allowed to cover its proceedings.
However, Supreme Court Bar Association President Rashid a Rizvi has shown reservation over the inclusion of senior military officials in the JIT by the apex court.
In compliance with the last order, the SBP governor and the SECP chairman appeared before the court along with the lists of Grade-18 and above officials on Friday.
Terms & conditions
Later, the bench, while issuing the order, observed that the secretariat of the JIT shall be housed in the building of the Federal Judicial Academy where the members shall be provided adequate office accommodation and related facilities. The requisite approval has been obtained from the chief justice of Pakistan.
Since the JIT in connection with the investigation would need funds, the Supreme Court has ordered the federal government to provide them necessary funds.
Likewise, the bench asked the federal government to provide Rs20 million forthwith, so that the JIT may not feel handicapped in its movement in any direction. The funds shall be placed at the disposal of the JIT head.
“The head and members of the JIT shall arrange secretarial staff of their choice from their respective departments. The JIT would also be at liberty to utilise the expertise available in their departments and any other department of the federal or provincial governments as and when required by it.”
The SC’s order further says that the boarding, lodging and transportation of members of the JIT shall also be provided by their respective departments in accordance with the rules.
“The JIT shall have the power to engage and associate local and/or foreign experts to facilitate the investigation and collection of evidence in line with the letter and spirit of the April 20 order.”
The order further states that the JIT shall have all the powers given by the law relating to investigation including those available in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898; National Accountability Bureau Ordinance, 1999; and the Federal Investigation Agency Act, 1975.
The court further observed that as the JIT, in essence and substance, is acting on the direction of the Supreme Court, all executive authorities throughout Pakistan shall act in aid of the JIT.
It also made it clear that if and when any person fails or refuses to associate with or appear before the JIT or refuses to cooperate or provide oral or documentary information required by it, the same be immediately brought to the notice of the court for taking appropriate action.
The interior secretary is directed to ensure necessary security arrangements for the secretariat and the members of the JIT. The JIT is directed to commence and complete the investigation and submit its final report in terms of the April 20 order.
Special bench angry at wrong attribution
At the onset of the hearing, the special bench expressed its anger over attribution of false statements to them by some politicians. The bench warned leaders of political parties that action would be taken against those attributing false statements to them.
Without naming anyone, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan said one political leader has stated that all five judges have declared Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a ‘liar’. “I never said the prime minister is a liar,” he clarified.
“The leader who has said this has spoken a lie and we are not going to bog down to that level. We want to discern. It must be borne out in the minds of everyone. We make it clear in clear terms that whosoever is making false statements and attribute to the judges will be taken to task for loosely and wantonly talks. It should be clear to everybody,” Justice Ejaz remarked.
The Supreme Court judge went on to say that the bench would go by the law to decide the case instead of the popular sentiment. “Let the heaven befall, we will go by the book and law.”
Meanwhile, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed that the court knew how to control social and mainstream media but freedom of the media ‘is sacred’. “My oath does not spell out that I have to be popular.”
Justice Azmat also remarked that some officials, whose names were sent by different departments, were not up to the mark as they have political affiliation or less expertise about the probe.
Another judge, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan expressed anger over government departments leaking names of the officials recommended for the JIT before submitting them to the apex court.
“Somebody is playing over-smart,” Justice Ahsan said, while addressing the State Bank governor and Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan chairman, who were present in the courtroom.
Earlier, Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali requested the court to restrain the media from discussing the case proceedings but the bench did not pass any order in this regard.