Turning down nominations of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) for Panama Papers Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on Wednesday, the Supreme Court summoned heads of both the institutions to produce lists of all the officers of grade-18 and above by May 05.
On April 20, announcing its reserved verdict in Panama Papers case, the apex court's five-member larger bench had issued directives to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), National Accountability Bureau (NAB), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) to nominate their seasoned officers for a six-member JIT to probe financial irregularities against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his two sons Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz in the wake of Panama Papers scandal.
A special bench of three-judges led by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh and Justice Ijazul Ahsan has been formed to implement the apex court verdict in Panama Papers case. At the outset of the hearing on Wednesday, the special bench opened a sealed envelope and found nominations of all the institutions but the single nominations by SBP and the SECP dismayed the court as the bench loudly said that it has the right to choose and finalise the names for the JIT in the matter.
During the course of proceedings, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh observed, "We'll pick the names, we will approve the names, we have to ensure that entire investigation be made in an impartial and transparent manner." Talking to Business Recorder, legal experts have presumed that the bench has no objection over nominations of other four institutions including FIA, NAB, ISI and MI, as it has expressed no concern over nominations of these four institutions.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed that everything must be open and clear, saying the court wants a neutral investigation into the instant matter. "We direct the chairman SECP and the governor SBP to appear in person before us on May 5 and provide the lists of all the officers of grade-18 and above," the bench said in short order.
Appearing before the bench Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf assured the court that he will contact the acting governor of the SBP or whosoever may be the head to do the needful. "Tell them to comply with the court's order and come with the lists of all officers of grade-18 and above and then the court will approve the names form the list," Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh said while addressing the AGP.
"Sure and there is no question about it," the AGP responded whereas Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked that no excuses and delays will be accepted. Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh said that nobody should play game with them, saying that they will not be hostage to anybody. "Dragging feet will have consequences, we won't tolerate any delay," Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh loudly said. Later, hearing of the matter was adjourned till May 05.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2017