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National

July 16, 2017

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JIT Report: Top 10 legal minds on what next

JIT Report: Top 10 legal minds on what next

ISLAMABAD: As the country awaits the result of Joint Investigation Team’s report on the assets of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s family after it has been furnished with the Supreme Court Implementation Bench, senior legal minds differ on the procedure to be adopted next.

Some are of view that the Implementation Bench will examine the JIT report, issue notices to the parties and decide the case, while a few say the report is for the satisfaction of judges only and they can decide on their own after the report comes before them.

Some senior lawyers and legal minds are of view that the Implementation Bench will send the JIT report to the chief justice who will refer it back to the five-member bench of the Panama case to decide the matter.

A few also hold that the CJ can constitute a new bench once the JIT report comes to him or the matter is referred to him.

Talking to The News about the next process of the case after the JIT report, eminent lawyer and constitutional expert Abid Hassan Manto said it was up to the apex court to decide whether to continue hearing by itself or refer the case to a trial court.

I am not sure about what the Supreme Court decides. It is fully empowered to hear the case by itself or it can even refer it to any accountability or trial court,” he said.

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Salman Akram Raja, Advocate Supreme Court, said the three judges of the Implementation Bench will decide the case.

They can dispose of the case, they can send a reference, they can pass an order, or they can refer the case to the chief justice for further action, he said.

He said a bench of the SC could pass any order. He said the Implementation Bench was a fully-fledged bench of the SC; therefore, it can pass any order and decide the case in hand.

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Senior Advocate Supreme Court Akram Sheikh said the chief Justice of Pakistan had formed the Implementation Bench based on the judgment of 20th April and in all those cases where commissions were formed, the report of the commission was presented to the court and all the parties were issued notices and the report was always subject to cross-examination.

He said the JIT report could be sent to the chief justice who will decide which bench should hear the case and in his opinion the case could not go to the same 5-member bench of the SC because two among them had already opined on the case; therefore, either a new bench or a larger bench would be formed, as it was entirely up to the CJ to decide.

Akram Sheikh said it was the jurisdiction of the chief justice to refer the matter to either the same three judges, or form a new bench to decide the fate of the JIT report.

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Justice (R) Wajiuddin Ahmad explained the procedure that three judges of the five-member bench in Panama Papers case had requested the chief justice to form an implementation bench for their judgment of further probe into the affairs of Sharif family. The CJ formed a three-member bench comprising the same three judges. Now the report would be sent to the chief justice.

“Normally, the CJ has the powers to form benches but in cases where a judgment has already been passed, the CJ has no powers to change the bench; therefore, the CJ is bound to send the JIT report to the five judges of Panama Papers case who had earlier given a verdict on April 20th”, said the retired judge adding, “Those five judges will then decide about the case. Either the two judges who had said that the PM stands disqualified might change their judgement as they would have an option or the three judges who ordered further investigation would take a decision regarding the PM’s disqualification”.

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Senior lawyer and former Attorney General for Pakistan Irfan Qadir said the two judges had given their decision in the case while three had not given any verdict; therefore, when a verdict has not come forth it cannot be implemented. All what is happening is a bench is facilitating an investigation through the JIT because had there been any decision there would have been its execution which is not the case.

He was of the view that the CJ must form a larger bench to decide the matter of disqualification through courts under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

“The larger bench will have to revisit past precedents where people were disqualified from being MPs through courts while it was not the duty of courts to disqualify an MP and by this way court will purify itself”, the lawyer held.

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SCBA President Rasheed A Rizvi said the three-judge bench was in fact an implementation bench for order of the court passed on 20th April; therefore, after the JIT report all the parties had been issued notices and the issue will again land before the five-member bench to decide the case. Rizvi was of the view that the JIT report will be subject to cross-examination.

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Babar Sattar said the three-member bench of the SC had to determine the fate of the case before them after considering the JIT report and call for objections if anyone had.

He said the original five-member bench of the SC had given its final verdict of which two judges had said that the PM stood disqualified while three ordered a thorough inquiry into the allegations against the PM’s family.

“It was not necessary that the three judges of the Panama Case Bench were to become members of the implementation bench but the chief Justice constituted the bench and included the same three judges in the implementation bench otherwise it’s a whole new bench of the SC whose aim is to implement the judgment of 20th April,” said Babar Sattar.

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Barrister Ali Zafar, senior advocate and ex-president of SCBA, said it was a settled principle that there would not be an immediate decision on the JIT report and on the principle of fair trial replies from the parties had been sought and after those replies a decision would be taken. He mentioned that it may take another 30 days for the bench to pronounce a decision on JIT report.

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Senior Advocate SC Ikram Chaudhry said one thing must be kept in mind that it was an Implementation Bench which was hearing the case; therefore, it has to take a decision on the JIT report.

“There is no need for further trail, as the JIT is working for the satisfaction of three judges who had ordered in April 20 judgment that a further probe is required into Sharif family’s monetary affairs in order to get a clear picture whether the prime minister stands disqualified or not, and if anyone of these judges says that Nawaz Sharif is disqualified, the April 20th Judgement will become 3- 2majoritywith three judges saying PM stands disqualified”, said the senior lawyer.

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Azhar Siddique Advocate Supreme Court said the three-member Implementation Bench will examine the JIT report and could summon the prime minister if necessary and may order his disqualification.

This has been written in the para four of the April 20th judgment that the bench can disqualify the PM if it is satisfied with the JIT’s report. The issue can be referred to the 5-member bench of panama papers case only to the extent of sending a reference against the accused persons.

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