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July 18, 2017

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JIT report biased, farce, one-sided: Sharif family

JIT report biased, farce, one-sided: Sharif family

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Sharif and members of his family, in the objections submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday, termed the JIT report as ‘farce’, ‘one-sided’, ‘breach of due process’, ‘illegal’ and ‘inherently biased and unfair’.

Khawaja Haris and Dr Tariq Hassan on behalf of Nawaz and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar respectively filed objections to the JIT report, praying the apex court to reject the findings besides dismissing the petitions filed by PTI, Jamaat-e-Islami and Sheikh Rashid.

In their objections, the Sharif family contended that the JIT members exceeded their jurisdiction and authority conferred by law in obtaining documents from abroad by hiring firms and thereby not only wasted time but also public money in rendering an incomplete, inconclusive and legally untenable and inherently defective report.

They also objected to the hiring of a UK-based firm Quist, admittedly belonging to Akhtar Raja (a cousin of Wajid Zia, the JIT head), saying Raja was also reportedly a PTI worker and the hiring was illegal and unsupported by law, and did not qualify as permissible in terms of Mutual Legal Assistance under Section 21 (g) of the NAO, 1999.

“In the entire report, there is absolutely no incriminating evidence against me in terms of the subject matter of the investigation order,” the Sharif family contended.

Regarding two of the JIT members, they said one of the more aggressive members of the JIT, whose description was given in one of the earlier application submitted before the apex court, was subsequently identified to be a nominee of ISI. He, however, was not an officer of ISI at the time of his nomination rather he was a ‘source employee’ under a contract which was not recognised as legal, and “reportedly neither his association with ISI nor his pay is reflected in any official record”.

They contended, “As such it is evident that none of these documents can be relied upon, nor can their contents be considered to form the basis of any adverse finding against any of the respondents.”

The prime minister requested the court to reject, what he called, the so-called evidence collected and findings given in the JIT report and to dismiss the petitions for his disqualification.

In a separate application, the prime minister through his counsel prayed the apex court to issue directives to JIT to provide him copy of the Volume-X of the report, which had been deliberately and maliciously withheld, to effectively prepare his case.

On the other hand, Dar, in his application, contended that the findings were beyond the mandate given to the JIT, saying the findings related to his wealth/income, which was neither mentioned in the apex court aforesaid order nor in the original petition submitted before the court.

The objections raised by the legal team head Khawaja Haris are summarised below.

1) The JIT exceeded the mandate given to it by the Supreme Court in the verdict of the Panama Papers case because it dealt with matters that have no nexus with the order of the apex court.

2) The JIT acted mala fide and none of the respondents were confronted with or called upon to explain their position vis-à-vis any of these documents. It is thus evident that the entire investigation was eyewash and was undertaken with predisposed mind to malign and implicate the respondents in some wrongdoing or the other.

3) The findings of the JIT in relation to the matters that may be considered to fall under the scope of the order of the court are based on documents or statements, which are inadmissible in the eyes of law.

4) The JIT members tried to conceal their irregularities in hiring private firms for collecting evidence and documents by including this illegal act under the heading Mutual Legal Assistant (MLA) Request that can only be addressed to a Foreign State and not to private firms and entities.

5) The documents relied upon by the JIT, especially from foreign jurisdictions, have been illegally procured as none of these bear the attestation in accordance with law and most of them do not bear the signatures of any executants or scribe.

6) It is not the function of the investigation officer or agency to render a finding of innocence or guilt of any person, rather any such finding is non-est and is a nullity in the eyes of law, and even no such finding can be allowed to be brought on the record during the trial.

7) The four documents, styled by the JIT as ‘crucial documentary evidence’ for so-called findings rendered by it in its report. Neither constitutes sufficient, nor primary, relevant or legally admissible evidence to prove any fact on the basis of the contents thereof, as wrongly presumed by the JIT.

8) Not a single piece of oral or documentary evidence considered incriminating by the JIT was ever shown to any of the respondents so as to enable them to explain their position vis-à-vis such evidence or to rebut the same.

9) The entire investigation was farce, breach of due process and, therefore, inherently biased and unfair to the respondents.

10) There can be no fair trial without fair investigation as laid down by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. A fair trial is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 10A of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 and as such, any trial sought to be initiated on the basis of such an unfair investigation is bound to be in breach of this fundamental right, and as such to be quashed.

11) Every purported finding by the JIT, is based on no evidence, and is reflective of the ingrained bias and prejudice of the JIT members towards and against Nawaz.

12) During the course of investigation, witnesses have been brow beaten, humiliated and threatened in a bid to make them withdraw their statements favouring Nawaz or otherwise change their statements in order to suit the objective of the JIT members to frame the respondents in some wrongdoing.

13) Two huge volumes have been prepared relating to cases, which have already been quashed by the Lahore High Court and regarding which no direction to re-investigate or collect evidence or to re-open has been given in the order of the court.

14) The observations made by the JIT in the report based on imaginary threats to their personal and job security are designed to prejudice the mind of the Supreme Court and subtly malign the respondents in the public eye.

15) Nominee of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was not its officer rather he was a ‘source employee’ under a contract, which is not recognized as legal, and reportedly neither his association with ISI nor his pay is reflected in any official record.

16) The JIT has blatantly misused the authority conferred on its members to seek Mutual Legal Assistance by hiring private persons/firms/entities including the UK based firm belonging to the cousin of the head of the JIT.

17) Bilal Rasool of Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Amer Aziz of State Bank of Pakistan have family’s close association with PML-Q and PTI and Irfan Naeem Mangi of National Accountability Bureau is under cloud pursuant to an order passed by another learned bench of the august court.  

18) Mutual Legal Assistance is neither privileged nor otherwise its discourse is prohibited by any provision of law.

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