ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court dropped the suo motu proceedings against Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar after he threw himself “at the mercy of the court” over allegations of political interference in police affairs.
CM Buzdar, former inspector-general of Punjab Kaleem Imam and Ahsan Jameel Gujjar – a close aide of the Maneka family – submitted unconditional apologies in the court.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar had taken a suo motu notice of the transfer of former DPO Pakpattan Rizwan Gondal allegedly over an altercation with citizen Khawar Fareed Maneka, the former husband of First Lady Bushra Imran.
After tendering an unconditional apology, in which he “expressed remorse”, the CM Punjab narrowly avoided the application of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution because of the alleged misuse of power.
The CJP had spoken of this constitutional provision several times during the hearing of the case. But in the end, the court showed restraint, which was widely lauded by senior lawyers.
CM Buzdar denies he was responsible for Pakpattan DPO's transfer
Three inquiries were conducted on the DPO’s transfer and all differed in their findings. Additional IG Abubakkar’s report found both the DPO and Gujjar guilty.
IG Kaleem Imam absolved the CM Punjab of any involvement in the DPO’s transfer.
Another inquiry report submitted by Mehr Khaliq Lak found that the order for the transfer of the former DPO Pakpattan ‘flowed’ from the Chief Minister’s Office.
The bench had asked the CM, IG Imam and Gujjar to submit their response in the light of the Lak’s inquiry report.
Initially, all respondents had rejected the report.
On Monday, the bench expressed its ire over the reply submitted by the CM Punjab in connection with the Lak’s report. The chief justice stated that it was a personal attack on him.
The chief justice said that this government was conducting its affairs in the same way as previous ones and nothing had changed.
“Is this the Naya Pakistan?” he said.
CJP comes down hard on Punjab CM
Referring to another incident implicating a man called Mansha Bomb, the chief justice said that the rule of law was being violated.
The CJP asked Advocate General of Punjab Ahmad Awais to convey his displeasure to the prime minister over his Monday’s press conference in which he asserted that Buzdar would remain the CM Punjab till the end of the government’s tenure.
The chief justice said that Buzdar would remain the CM under the court’s order in this matter.
Later, the chief justice gave the respondents two options.
The bench could initiate an inquiry under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution or they should retract their responses and tender an unconditional apology.
He said that Naya Pakistan would truly emerge if the court opted to conduct the inquiry under Article 62(1)(f). However, all three, including the CM, chose to submit an unconditional apology before the bench.
Justice Nisar warned that the matter could be reopened if the CM again interfered in police affairs. He said that in the future, the court would strictly deal with the cases of abuses of power.
The CJP specifically warned Gujjar to be extra-cautious, especially over the next three months of his tenure.
The bench also lauded the inquiry report compiled by Lak and said that he might face a backlash from politicians for holding Buzdar and Gujjar guilty of interference in police matters.
Meanwhile, the same bench rejected another plea, seeking to disqualify Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah on the charges of holding dual nationality in the 2008 elections.
The bench, however, asked the applicant to approach the tribunal to get a remedy.
The apex court also decided to form a special bench to hear cases of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). The CJP said that the FBR was defaming the court about the pendency of cases.
Later, the court was informed that as many as 1,854 cases were pending in the apex court, involving a possible revenue of Rs28 billion.