The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed concerns over the sluggish progress in investigations of the 2010 Hajj scam and sought an in-depth report from the Federal Intelligence Agency (FIA) of its findings to date.
The Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Member of National Assembly (MNA) Hamid Saeed Kazmi was imprisoned due to his negligence and involvement in this scam. A two-judge bench of the apex court comprising Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan and Justice Jawwad S Khawaja resumed hearing of the suo motu case regarding corruption in Hajj arrangements in 2010.
During the hearing, Additional DG FIA, Inam Ghani, apprised the bench that the FIA had not received the LLB degree verification from Zakria University Multan for one of the alleged accomplices in the scam, Zain Sukhera, a close friend of Premier Gilani’s son.
The court questioned as to why the verification process was not completed, despite lapse of more than 13 months. Justice Khawaja added that the verification process takes ten minutes and that it is unclear as to why the court’s order was not adhered to.
During the hearing, a report pertaining to investigation against Director Hajj Rao Shakeel, former secretary establishment Ismail Qureshi and Joint Secretary Hajj, S M Tahir, was presented before the bench stating that challans were submitted to the court concerned against all three officials on April 25, 2010.
The bench was informed that Qureshi was declared innocent by the FIA, based on which, Justice Khawaja inquired why his name was placed in the list of submitted challans.
Deputy Attorney General Shafi Muhmmad Chandio sought time from the bench to submit his reply in this matter. The FIA director also sought more time from the apex court, citing insufficient time as his reason, since he was assigned the task of probing the scam recently on April 20, 2012.
The hearing was adjourned for two weeks with the court seeking a comprehensive report of the findings so far.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had taken suo motu notice after receiving a letter from Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud and applications received by Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday from different pilgrims, accusing three MNAs and two Senators of embezzlement in Hajj arrangements in 2010.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2012.