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May 6, 2017

SC forms six-member JIT

Top Story

May 6, 2017

Gives it powers being utilised by NAB, FIA and available under Code of Criminal Procedure
1898 to probe PM, his family assets

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday constituted the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the allegations of financial irregularities and money laundering involving Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family for establishing properties abroad.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and all other institutions will be bound to cooperate with the JIT.

A three-member special SC bench, headed by Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsen, while conducting the hearing into the implementation of the Panama Papers verdict, constituted the six-member JIT headed by Wajid Zia, additional director general (Immigration), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

Other members of the investigation team are Brigadier Kamran Khursheed from the Military Intelligence (MI), Brigadier Nauman Saeed from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Amir Aziz from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Bilal Rasool, executive director, Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), and Irfan Naeem Mangi, Director with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The court empowered the JIT to engage local and foreign experts to facilitate the investigation and collection of evidence in line with the order passed by a five-member larger bench on April 20, 2017. The court directed the federal government to initially give Rs20 million so that the JIT does not feel handicapped in its movement in any direction. The funds would be placed at the disposal of the JIT head. The court said the JIT would have all powers given by the law relating to investigations including those available in the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898, the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance 1999 and the Federal Investigation Agency Act 1975. "As the JIT, in essence and substance, is acting on the direction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, all the executive authorities throughout Pakistan would help the JIT."

The court said if and when any person failed or refused to cooperate with the JIT or provide oral or documentary information required by it, it should immediately be brought into the notice of the court for taking appropriate action. The court directed the interior secretary to ensure security for the JIT Secretariat and its members. Similarly, the court directed the JIT to complete investigations and submit its final report in terms of the order passed by the larger bench on April 20, 2017 and submit fortnightly progress reports as stipulated in the order.

The court ruled that the JIT Secretariat would be housed in the building of the Federal Judicial Academy, Islamabad, where it would be provided adequate facilities. The requisite approval had been obtained from the chief justice of Pakistan. "Since the JIT in connection with the investigation needs funds, the federal government is directed to give it necessary funds,” the court said, directing the federal government to initially give Rs 20m so that the JIT do not feel handicapped in its movement in any direction. The funds would be placed at the disposal of the head of the JIT. The court said the head and members of the JIT would arrange secretarial staff of their choice from their respective departments. "The JIT would be at liberty to utilize the expertise available in their departments and any other department of federal or provincial governments as and when required by it", the court ruled, adding that the boarding, lodging and transportation of the JIT members would be provided by their respective departments in accordance with the rules.

The court adjourned proceedings until May 22. It is pertinent to mention here that in pursuant to court earlier directions, names of officers were sent by all the departments/institutions but since the court had reservations about the names given by the State Bank of Pakistan and the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, the heads of both institutions were directed to appear before it on May 5. In compliance with court directives, the SECP chairman and the SBP governor appeared before it along with lists of all Scale-18 and above officers so that the court could consider them for approval as JIT members.

The court adjourned the hearing with the ruling that after examining the lists, an appropriate order would be passed.