The Chief Justice of Pakistan on Tuesday hinted at constituting a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe a case concerning allotment of Auqaf property attached to the shrine of Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Masud Ganj Shakar in Pakpattan.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif appeared before the Supreme Court earlier today in connection to the case dating back to 1985, which involves illegal allotment of Auqaf Department’s land in Pakpattan to an individual, Dewan Ghulam Qutab, in violation of a Lahore High Court order. Nawaz was the chief minister of Punjab province when the land in question was transferred.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had summoned the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo to appear before the court on December 4 (today) to explain his position in the case.

During today's hearing, the chief justice suggested to form a JIT to probe the matter; Nawaz, however, remarked that his experience with JITs had not particularly been pleasant.

Justice Nisar observed that the case called for an investigation. “It’s no small matter, it involves 14,000 kanal land,” the top judge remarked, as he asked the former prime minister to suggest how he wanted the matter to be probed.

Asking Nawaz whether he wanted the National Accountability Bureau, the Federal Investigation Agency or a JIT to investigate the case, the chief justice gave the former premier one week to decide which institution should conduct the probe.

Justice Nisar further remarked that he wanted the two-time chief minister and three-time prime minister’s name cleared.

Nawaz told the bench that there was no order on record that he had signed in connection with the allegations.

He said something appeared to have gone wrong at the lower levels of [the bureaucracy], and questioned if it could still be said that the Auqaf Department was involved in the fraud.

The court then adjourned the hearing for a week.

Nawaz, in his reply, had requested the court to discharge the notice issued to him in the interest of justice. He had contended that the case was a very old matter, dating back 33 years, and therefore he did not recall having passed any such order. 

In 2015, former chief justice Nasirul Mulk had taken a suo motu notice over the illegal allotment of the shrine land to individuals in 1985 in violation of the LHC order.