ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Tuesday granted protective bail to former Malir Senior Superintendent of Police Rao Anwar, directing him to appear before the court on Friday.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard the suo motu case which pertains to the killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud allegedly in a fake encounter. Rao is the main accused in the murder case.

Naqeebullah Mehsud who had been residing in Karachi since 2008 was allegedly apprehended by police in Karachi on January 2 and murdered on January 17.

Sindh and Islamabad police were directed by the chief justice not to arrest Rao Anwar on his appearance before the apex court.

The court also ordered formation of a new joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the killing of Mehsud.

During the hearing, the chief justice said Rao Anwar had written him a letter which he showed Sindh Inspector General of Police AD Khawaja for verification of his signatures. The Sindh police chief affirmed the signatures seemed authentic.

In the letter, Rao had stated that he was innocent and claimed he was not present at the site of the encounter. The former Malir SSP further mentioned in the letter that he always complied with the law and would ensure his presence before an independent JIT, adding he would accept its decision whatever it might be.

Justice Saqib Nisar observed the accused should be given an opportunity to defend himself, adding Rao Anwar had requested him to form a JIT comprising officials from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Military Intelligence (MI).

The court asked AD Khawaja to give his viewpoint on the formation of a new JIT. The Sindh police chief opined the accused could be given an opportunity to defend himself.

The chief justice then granted protective bail to Rao Anwar, directing him to appear before the court on February 16, besides preventing the Islamabad and Sindh police from arresting the former SSP.

Justice Saqib Nisar also held a brigadier-rank official of the ISI and an official of the IB would be part of the JIT to be headed by an honest police officer to be appointed by the court.

Earlier, the Sindh IGP said that in pursuance of the court’s orders, secret agencies were approached for formation of a JIT. He said letters were despatched to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the IB and the ISI, adding replies from the ISI and the IB had been received.

AD Khawaja said, according to the IB’s reply, it had tried to collect data from whatsApp while efforts had also been made to ascertain from which mobile set Rao Anwar used WhatsApp or connected to any Wi-Fi device, but to no avail. He said the IB had also contacted Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) which had not replied yet.

The chief justice asked the Sindh IGP to simply say no progress had so far been made although sufficient time had been given in this regard.

During the last hearing, the court, on the request of AD Khawaja, had directed the prime intelligence agencies of the country, ISI, MI and IB, to extend full support to the Sindh police for the arrest of the former SSP.