Thursday December 01, 2022

PanamaLeaks case: Record being tampered with, changed, says JIT

June 13, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Joint Investigation Team (JIT), constituted for probing the allegations of financial irregularities and money laundering involving Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family for establishing properties abroad, leveled serious allegations against some government institutions for changing and tampering with the record pertaining to the Panama Papers.

The JIT maintained that hurdles were being created by certain quarters and in view of the situation, it could not complete the investigation within the stipulated time frame of 60 days.

The apex court bench observed that creating obstacles could have serious consequences. A three-member Special Bench of the PanmaLeaks Implementation Case, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsen, resumed hearing into the plea filed by Hussain Nawaz, son of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, seeking its direction to the JIT to stop the video recording of its proceedings relating to the statements and interrogation of the witnesses.

During the course of hearing, the JIT, in pursuance of the court directive, submitted itsinquiry report pertaining to leakage of photo of Hussain Nawaz during the interrogation.

Similarly, the JIT also filed a separate application on the court’s direction, stating about some impediments and problems being faced by it while probing the matter in hand. On the last hearing, submitting its second progress report on June 7, the JIT informed the court that it was facing some impediments in the investigation process which it complied with.

On Monday, Wajid Zia, the JIT head, took out some reports from his bag and handed over to the bench which went through both the reports for some time and observed that the JIT had leveled allegations against some departments for tampering with and changing the record pertaining to the Panama Papers issue.

“There are serious allegations that some institutions are tampering with and changing the record,” Justice Ijazul Ahsen, a member of the bench, observed.

The court directed Rana Waqar, Additional Attorney General, to submit his reply on the allegations leveled by the JIT against some institutions for tampering with and changing the record.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, another member of the bench, observed that there would be far-reaching consequences in case of forgery.

“You are representing the state but not any person or party hence you are supposed to assist the court”, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan told Rana Waqar.

Khwaja Haris, counsel for Hussain Nawaz, when referred to the matter of leakage of Hussain Nawaz’ photo as well as his request on banning the video recording of the witnesses during their interrogation, contended that it’s a legal issue and questioned as to under what authority the JIT was making video recording. “We understand your anxiety but you should also cite the court any law that prohibits video recording,” Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed told the learned counsel.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan told the learned counsel that the JIT had submitted its report and it had denied it. The court further observed that the JIT in its inquiry report submitted that punitive action had been taken against one individual suspected of involvement in the incident.

Justice Ejaz Afzal observed that there was no bar on video recording adding that the purpose of video recording was to prepare transcript of the interview. He, however, asked Khwaja Haris to assist the court while citing some laws that bar video recording.

He also asked the Additional Attorney General Rana Waqar to assist the court on the legal issue and also look into the hurdles and obstruction being created in the way of JIT proceedings. The court also directed the law officer as to whether it would be wise to make public the problems being faced by the JIT.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed that Khwaja Harris should look at the JIT's response if the Attorney General's (AG) Office had no objections. 

Rana Waqar, Additional Attorney General, however, told the court that the JIT had no issues if the report was shared with the petitioner's counsel.

Meanwhile, the court directed both the Additional Attorney General and counsel for Hussain Nawaz to file their replies on the JIT inquiry report by tomorrow, June 14.