Hajj scam: FIA officials put on notice for quitting probe

PM yet to sign summary for officers’ reappointment.



ISLAMABAD:


The Supreme Court has issued show-cause notices to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) chief and two officers formerly spearheading investigations into the Hajj scam for abandoning the case halfway in violation of court orders.


Additional director general Javed Bukhari and director Hussain Asghar were served notices for requesting their transfers while the investigation was in progress -- in violation of the apex court’s directive. FIA director general Malik Iqbal informed the court that the two officers had asked to be disassociated from the case. The establishment was directed to cancel their transfer orders and reappoint them in the FIA to enable them to proceed with the investigation.

Establishment Secretary Chaudhry Abdul Rauf apprised the six-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry that the premier has not yet signed the summary for the officers’ reappointment due to the fallout of the Abbottabad incursion. The secretary held the interior ministry responsible for their transfer, prompting the CJ to observe that FIA DG had expedited their removal.

The chief justice remarked that the FIA DG would have to explain why he tried to impede the court’s proceedings. He would also be grilled as to why no action was taken against Shagufta Jumani, the former state minister for religious affairs, after the investigation team recorded a statement implicating her in the scam. The CJ did not accept the explanation offered by FIA director (legal) Azam Tarar who said that the Saudi government did not provide concrete evidence against Jumani. “Saudi Arabia will not hand over evidence to foreign agencies,” he said.

He pointed out that the case was obstructed whenever there was headway in the investigation. “Whenever investigations are initiated against influential persons, officials are disassociated from the case,” he observed. The hearing was adjourned till June 3.

Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court has refused bail after arrest to the former religious affairs minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi who was expelled from the cabinet for his alleged involvement in the Hajj scam.

Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi dismissed his bail application with the observation that he could not be granted bail at this stage. The court observed that Kazmi had appointed both Ahmed Faiz who had hired accommodation for pilgrims in Saudi Arabia last year and former Hajj DG Rao Shakeel. Kazmi had challenged the April 14 decision of FIA’s special court after his bail was dismissed.



Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2011.

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