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January 12, 2019

Army within our powers: SC

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January 12, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday said that it would not close 24-year-long case of former Air Marshal Asghar Khan relating to the distribution of Rs140 million among politicians for defeating the late Benazir Bhutto in the 1990 general elections and summoned defence secretary on the next hearing.

A two-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, resumed hearing into the case regarding non-implementation of its October 19, 2012 judgment.

The court, after rejecting the plea of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) seeking closure of the instant matter, summoned defence secretary on the next date of hearing with direction to submit a comprehensive report in a week on the progress of the trial against military officials allegedly involved in distributing money among politicians. The apex court observed that military also comes within its purview.

Legal heirs of Asghar Khan, including his spouse Amna Asghar, his daughters Nasreen Ahmed Khattak, Shereen Awan and son Ali, the other day while submitting their viewpoint before the court had opposed the FIA’s recommendations and stated that they wanted trial of the case with logical conclusion and also stated that the court verdict must be implemented in letter and spirit and a detailed inquiry be conducted for the interest of masses.

On December 31, 2018, the apex court issued notices to the legal heirs of Asghar Khan for their viewpoint after the FIA recommended closure of the inquiry for initiating action against politicians who allegedly received money ahead of the 1990 general elections.

Director General Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Bashir Memon had submitted a report stating that as no legally accepted evidence is available with the Agency on the basis of which criminal case may be initiated against the alleged politicians, hence the case merited closure.

The FIA had contended that it was a settled rule of jurisprudence that in absence of corroboratory evidence, conviction cannot be based on hearsay. Persons seemingly acquainted with facts and circumstances of subject case could not even provide the leads that may have helped the FIA in collaboration of sufficient evidence, says the report.

It had further contended that the accurate amount given to politicians is not visible, even the concerned banks did not provide the requisite record appropriately at this belated stage i.e. after 24 years while the GHQ, which is conducting its own probe, is yet to inform the FIA.

Hence, no legally-accepted evidence is available with the agency on the basis of which a criminal case may be initiated against the alleged politicians and the case merited closure, the FIA had submitted.

On Friday the court in view of the replies submitted by the legal heirs of Asghar Khan, rejected the FIA recommendations and decided to continue the instant matter. During the course of hearing, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed that they would not let Asghar Khan’s efforts go waste, adding that the FIA is backing out when it’s time to implement the court verdict in letter and spirit.

The chief justice said that the FIA had stated that it has no solid evidence but the court has not yet concluded the case and will task another institution to continue the probe if FIA does have the powers to do so.

“How could the apex court just dismiss its decision”, the CJP remarked adding that they will further investigate the case and asked Salman Akram Raja, counsel for the petitioner, to assist the court. The chief justice said that judgment in the Asghar Khan case has very much significance in the country’s history and if wasted, nothing could be achieved.

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