ISLAMABAD: In an unbelievable move the interior ministry has approached the Supreme Court seeking withdrawal of its inquiry report that became the basis for change of Arsalan case inquiry from NAB to a commission headed by Dr Shoaib Suddle.
Adding colour to this funny move the ministry has also set up a new 4-member committee to produce a fresh report that could limit the damage already done by the earlier report.
Interestingly the new committee has been set up through an official notification, available with The News, which is marked “SECRET”. Notifications are meant for public consumption and are published in official gazette but the interior ministry here too has set a new precedent of issuing a “SECRET” notification.
Official sources said having become upset with its own earlier report, which became the basis for SC’s recent order under which the NAB JIT was quashed and Dr Suddle Commission was set up, the interior ministry initially approached the Supreme Court registrar to get its earlier report withdrawn under the plea that the secretary interior had not approved the report.
On this the SC told the ministry that the inquiry report could not be withdrawn as it had already been processed and resulted into a court order. However, the interior ministry was asked that if it had any additional information on the issue of giving protocol to a litigant party in a case in the Supreme Court, the same could be shared with the apex court.
Failing to get the inquiry report withdrawn, the interior ministry issued a notification on September 10 for the setting up of an inquiry committee comprising Shahid Hamid, additional secretary interior, Tariq Mehmood Pirzada, chief commissioner ICT, Iftikhar Hussain, joint secretary interior and Farooq Yasin, SSP Islamabad.
The inquiry committee had the following terms of reference:
a. How the inquiry report was submitted to the Supreme Court on August 27, 2012 without approval of secretary interior?
b. Were all the accused officers (SP Rural ICT Faisal Bashir Memon and DSP Rural Tahir Mehmood Malik) examined by the executive members of the inquiry team including head of the team?
c. What were the real facts of the matter?
d. Were all the documents made part of the inquiry report that highlighted role of each individual?
e. Who pressured the secretary of the inquiry committee (Majid) to sign the report when he was not legally competent to do so?
f. Under what authority additional secretary Arif Ikram ordered secretary of the inquiry committee to indulge in the inquiry proceeding and to cross-examine the accused officers?
g. Why deliberately evidence was withheld, if any, to be made part of the inquiry report in violation of orders of the Supreme Court?
The new committee has been asked through the secret notification to submit its recommendation not later than September 17.
This latest initiative of the interior ministry not only raises serious legal questions but is also in direct friction with the Supreme Court’s recent order, which instead wanted from the regime to implement its inquiry report, presented before the SC.
In order to avoid implementation of the recommendations of the earlier inquiry report, the government has already removed the three officers, who had inquired the matter after having been authorised by the interior secretary.
Interior ministry sources said that on the file moved by DG National Crisis Management Cell, the then joint secretary law Khushdil Malik had formally authorised the submission of the report before the SC. Now, it is said, through the new committee the government intends to get a new finding that it was an unauthorised submission of the report.
Following the apex court’s direction it was the interior ministry itself that had constituted a 3-member team of its choice to probe the matter pertaining to the protocol. The inquiry report exposed that one of the two police officers, who had recently given unauthorised protocol was later picked up by NAB chairman as member of JIT in Arsalan case.
The Supreme Court in its order for change of inquiry from NAB to Dr Shoaib Suddle commission had said that the proceedings of the Dr Suddle Commission shall not preclude the departmental authorities from taking disciplinary proceedings against these two officers - SP Faisal Bashir Memon and DSP Tahir Mehmood Malik - in accordance with the law, as has also been recommended by the inquiry committee of the ministry of interior.
The inquiry committee of the interior ministry had concluded that SP Rural ICT Faisal Bashir Memon and DSP Rural Tahir Mehmood Malik had overstepped while offering protocol to the litigant party. Faisal Bashir Memon was later included as member of the NAB’s Joint Investigation Committee to probe Dr Arsalan case.
Referring to the interior ministry’s inquiry, the Supreme Court in its order had said that Faisal Bashir Memon was nominated as a member of the JIT by chairman NAB although he neither belonged to NAB nor was he under NAB discipline.
The SC judgment added that a three-Member inquiry committee constituted by the secretary interior, has concluded that Faisal Bashir Memon ‘... has over-stepped just to please the litigant at the cost of his duty and lied all the way to deceive the committee by concealing the facts’. The inquiry committee also recommended that ‘the competent authority may be moved to initiate departmental action under Efficiency and Discipline Rules as well as under police rules against the said officer’.
Interior ministry, however, instead of proceeding against the two police officers, initially removed the team of inquiry officers and has now set up a new inquiry committee but in a funny manner.