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Charges against JIT members premature, unsubstantiated: SC

By Malik Asad 2017-06-04
ISLAMABAD: While the elder son of the prime minister was quizzed by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the Panama Papers case for a fourth time in a week, the Supreme Court on Saturday dismissed his petition seeking replacement of two of the six members of the team and ruled that relationship alone with political rivals did not give rise to apprehension that the inquiry would be biased.The JIT has been constituted by the Supreme Court to investigate money laundering allegations against the Sharif f amily.

After attending the four-hour session in the JIT secretariat, Hussain Nawaz again claimed before media persons that the investigation team would not und an iota of evidence against him or any of his family members.

He said that the Sharif f amily had f aced `political cases` in the past but remained victorious in the end. `What happened in the plane hijacking case?` he asked, and said that the then president Pervez Musharraf had insututed fake cases against his father and other family members but could not prove even a single allegation.

Mr Nawaz expressed thehope that the Panama Papers case would also meet the same fate since it was baseless and there was no evidence (against him and his family members).

`Had there been any evidence or truth in money laundering allegations or had therebeen any illegality in the purchase of Mayfair apartments, retired Gen Musharraf would have definitely proceeded against us,` he said, adding that since the former military ruler knew there was no evidence, he did not pursue the matter.

The prime minister`s son saidthat the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz considered the judiciary a sacred institution. If he noticed any unf air treatment or bias in the investigation, the matter would be reported to the Supreme Court, the media and public at large, he warned.

SC cites reasons for dismissing Hussain`s plea The Supreme Court dismissed the petition filed by Hussain Nawaz against the inclusion of Bilal Rasool of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Aamer Aziz of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in the JIT.

A three-member bench comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh and Justice Ijazul Ahsanobserved that `relationship alone with the political rival of the applicant or his f ather won`t per se give rise to a reasonable apprehension that the investigation shall be biased or partial`.

The judgement said that the ground mentioned about partiality and predisposition of Mr Aziz and Mr Rasool was not of a nature that could be considered on the basis of mere allegations and in the absence of anything concrete substantiating the same.

`The allegations thus being premature and unsubstantiated don`t warrant substitution of any member of the JIT at least at this stage`, the SC ruled.

The judgement noted that the counsel for Hussain Nawaz `did not cite any precedent in which on the basis of mere allegation, an investigation officer was changed or substituted`.

During the hearing of the petition, the counsel Khawaja Haris cited the case of Dr Arsalan Iftikhar (son of then chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry) versus Malik Riaz Hussain. The case was based on the allegations levelled by Mr Riaz against Mr If tikhar of getting undue financial benefits.

While the National Accountability Bureau was investigating the allegations, the apex court`s special bench stopped it from proceeding against Dr Iftikhar and transferred the matter to a one-man commission comprising Dr Shoaib Suddle, the then federal tax ombudsman, after the counsel for the CJP`s son raised objection to the investigation agency.

However, in the case of Mr Nawaz, the apex court bench observed, `we don`t find any substance in the application; therefore, we don`t feelinclined to pass the order asked for.

However, the court said, `In any case, if we notice any such thing evincing bias, partiality, or predisposition on the part of any member of the JIT in favour or against either of the parties during the course of investigation, we would pass an appropriate order in this behalf.

`PML-N respects judiciary` Talking to the media outside the Federal Judicial Academy where the JIT secretariat is housed, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Asif Kirmani said that the PML-N respected the judiciary and continued to display respect for SC benches. He recalled that Nawaz Sharif had led a long march in 2009 for the reinstatement of deposed judges and to uphold the rule of law.

Mr Kirmani said that some leaders were neither part of the long march nor had they supported the movement for the reinstatement of judges but now they were talking of independence of the judiciary to promote their vested interests.

He said that (Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief) Imran Khan had failed to provide details of his three-year finances but was demanding accountability of the Sharif family over the past seven decades.