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    Friday, May 5, 2017

    SC finalises members of Panama case JIT, issues operational directives

    The three-member bench of the Supreme Court overseeing the implementation of the apex court's verdict in the Panama papers case on Friday finalised the six members of a joint investigation team (JIT) that is to probe the prime minister and his son's business dealings abroad.
    The Friday hearing was attended by Justices Ejaz Afzal Khan, Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Ijaz ul Ahsan, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali, acting State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Riaz Riazuddin and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Chairman Zafar Hijazi.
    The following individuals, as approved by the Supreme Court, will be conducting the investigation:
    • Federal Investigation Agency: Additional Director General Wajid Zia. Zia will be heading the JIT.
    • SBP: BS-21 officer Amer Aziz. JIT member.
    • SECP: Executive Director Bilal Rasool. JIT member.
    • National Accountability Bureau: Director Irfan Naeem Mangi. JIT member.
    • Inter-Services Intelligence: Brig Muhammad Nauman Saeed. JIT member.
    • Military Intelligence: Brig Kamran Khurshid. JIT member.
    The apex court said the team will be provided offices and other facilities within the building of the Federal Judicial Academy in Islamabad. Boarding, lodging and transportation facilities will be provided to the JIT members by their respected departments.
    The interior secretary has been directed to ensure necessary security arrangements are made to keep the JIT members and the Secretariat, where it will be housed, safe.
    The federal government has also been directed to provide Rs20 million to the JIT immediately, which will be managed by the head of the JIT.
    The directives further state that all JIT members will arrange secretarial staff of their choice and are free to utilise expertise available within their respective departments or in other provincial and federal government departments.
    The JIT members have been given the authority to engage and associate local and/or foreign experts to facilitate the investigation. The team also has been given all powers granted by laws relating to investigation, including those available in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, National Accountability Bureau Ordinance, 1999 and the Federal Investigation Agency Act, 1975.
    The directives also say that since the JIT, in essence and substance, is acting on the directions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, all executive authorities across Pakistan must assist and cooperate with the team.
    All executive authorities across Pakistan must assist and cooperate with the team. In case of their failure or refusal to do so, the Supreme Court shall be notified and it will take necessary action, the bench said.
    The JIT has been directed to commence and complete the investigation pursuant to the SC's order on the Panama case dated April 20, 2017.
    It has to submit a progress report on a fortnightly basis to the bench.
    The next hearing has been scheduled for May 22, 2017, in line with this directive.
    The SC's verdict on the Panama case was split 3-2 among a five-judge bench, with the two dissenting notes in the judgement authored by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed. The two judges had ruled against PM Nawaz Sharif, saying he should be disqualified, whereas the other three were in favour of forming a JIT.
    In the last hearing, the bench had rejected nominees forwarded by the SECP and SBP for the JIT.
    Commenting on why the candidates were rejected, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan said: "It is sad that we have to point out that the names submitted by the SECP and SBP were leaked to media outlets."
    "This is why we deemed it necessary to discard the submitted names because they were discussed on social media platforms," Justice Ahsan remarked.
    According to reports, on Friday the SECP submitted a list of 229 individuals ranked Grade 18 and above to the court, while the SBP's list of similarly qualified individuals had more than 400 names.
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    Item Reviewed: SC finalises members of Panama case JIT, issues operational directives Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Abdul Sattar Qamar