Demonstrating an utter lack of confidence in the Federal Investigation Agency’s performance in investigating the National Insurance Company Limited land scam after all the main offenders were allowed to flee the country, the Supreme Court has decided to transfer the case to the National Accountability Bureau.
The apex court on Monday sought Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Anwarul Haq’s legal opinion on transferring the case to NAB.
A special three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, also asked for details of one of the main accused Moonis Elahi’s acquittal by a banking court and subsequent departure from the country.
Former additional FIA director-general and lead investigator for NICL, Zafar Qureshi informed the court that Rs502 million embezzled in the land scam have yet to be recovered. He said that Rs402 million have to be retrieved from Moonis and Rs100 million from co-accused Habibullah Warraich.
Qureshi said that Moonis’ name was placed on the Exit Control List but he was allowed to fly abroad after his acquittal. The chief justice asked whether the accused could be acquitted without a regular trial, but the AGP had no answer.
Qureshi said he was pressured into releasing Warraich but did not comply. “I did my duty in the best interests of the country, endangering my life, but I never compromised on principles.” He accused the government and state institutions of shielding the accused during investigations.
Justice Amir Hani Muslim asked why the government had not yet filed an appeal against his acquittal. Once again, the AGP could not give a satisfactory answer.
Moonis’ counsel Babar Awan said that the court was misguided about his client. He contended that Moonis was acquitted after evidence was submitted in his favour.
During the hearing, the court also took up the case pertaining to the allegations levelled by Qureshi against the Chaudhrys of Gujrat. Barrister Wasim Sajjad, counsel for Chaudhrys, said the allegations were biased and that Qureshi had not filed a reply. He contended that Qureshi should reveal his source. “I had a reliable source which is confidential, but I can tell the court another time,” Qureshi answered. “You can tell us in the chamber,” the chief justice said.
The court asked the AGP to submit details of Moonis’ foreign visits and adjourned hearing till Tuesday.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2011.