ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Thursday showed an unusual leniency towards PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur when Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar maintained that both had not been summoned to attend the court proceedings nor orders were issued to put their names on the exit control list.
In its earlier written order, the top court had categorically summoned both of them in a multi-billion fake bank accounts scam.
On July 8, the top court in its short order had directed: "Having heard the Director General Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and on account of a cursory perusal of the report submitted by the FIA, as a first step we direct that all those named in paragraphs 1 to 4 (of court order) be summoned before this court at the next date of hearing."
The names of Zardari and Talpur were clearly mentioned at serial number 7 of paragraph number 3 of the court order showing them in the list of beneficiaries.
The top court in paragraph 10 of its order had further directed the Sindh Police Inspector General to ensure the presence of all the people (in the list of beneficiaries) before the court at the next date of hearing.
However, when the much-hyped and most-awaited hearing began on Thursday, the law officer took the name of each accused person separately and marked their attendance but when the names of Zardari and Talpur were announced, the chief justice remarked: "I think that we had not summoned them in person to appear before the court."
"We did not call Asif Ali Zardari and even not directed to put their names on the ECL," he said, adding: "We directed to put the names of suspects while Asif Zardari and Faryal Talpur are not suspects in the case."
Thursday was not a routine day in courtroom number 1 as it was expected that former president Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur would join the proceedings in the case regarding the slackness in the progress of pending inquiries relating to fake bank accounts.
Besides the deployment of a heavy contingent of Islamabad police outside the court premises, the courtroom was also fully packed with lawyers, media persons and litigants and some political workers.
A series of legal giants belonging to the Pakistan Peoples' Party including Aitzaz Ahsan, Latif Khosa, Zumarad Khan and Nayyer Hussain Bukhari attended the proceedings whereas representatives of People's Lawyers’ Forum were also present in the court to witness the proceedings.
Later, the apex court also directed the FIA to give time Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur until the general election while citing the reason that both were participating in the elections.
"Tomorrow no one should be able to make excuses that the elections have been rigged," the chief justice said.
He further directed that all the suspects, apart from Zardari and Talpur, should be included in the investigation before the elections.
The top court adjourned the proceedings in the case till August 6with directions that “whosoever’s name had been placed on the ECL would remain there until the next date of hearing”. “If someone turns out to be innocent, their names will then be removed.”
MUHAMMAD ASAD CHAUDHRY