ISLAMABAD - The verdict that a judge of the apex court will supervise accountability court proceedings against the Sharif family in the Panama Papers case has raised eyebrows and the legal fraternity is insisting on fair application of the law.

The legal experts are of the view if the apex court’s priority is to eradicate corruption from the society, a judge should have been appointed to supervise the Ogra and Eobi scams in which the SC had itself observed that billions of rupees had been misappropriated.

Senior advocate Tariq Asad commented: “If we really want the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution, it should be applied equally to every citizen of Pakistan whether he is a civilian, a military or a judiciary official. If we want a different treatment on the basis of the position or the job, it is better to amend or withdraw Article 25 from the Constitution,” he added.

The Panama Papers contain names of around 400 Pakistanis, including a high court judge. The apex court proceeded against the Sharif family only and disqualified former prime minister Nawaz Sharif while the case against the high court judge for allegedly having an offshore company has not been decided despite a lapse of 15 months.

Former chief justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, while addressing the New Judicial Year gathering and the Islamabad High Court Bar Association in 2015, had said the fate of pending cases against judges in the Supreme Judicial Council would be decided on priority basis.

Senior lawyers say that in the case of former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s son Arsalan Iftikhar, the JIT was changed when it was pointed out by Arsalan that its members were not impartial. The lawyers question why the apex court in the Sharifs’ case outright rejected the allegations of Hussain Nawaz against the JIT members’ bias without giving reasons.

Supreme Court Bar Association former president Kamran Murtaza said the money-laundering and corruption issues were not bigger than the subversion and abrogation of the Constitution. He asked why the Special Court comprising three judges of different high courts could not decide the case against former dictator Pervez Musharraf in four years. “Why could they not even secure the presence of Musharraf?” he further asked.

Lahore High Court Bar Association former president Sheikh Ahsan-ud-Din said when Musharraf was summoned by the court, the whole military establishment stood behind him, he was kept in AFIC and a medical certificate was issued to him declaring him a heart patient.

Sheikh Ahsan, who is also a focal person for Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party, said after the Panama Papers case, the people of Pakistan were now looking towards the judiciary for equal application of law and Constitution. He said it was responsibility of the courts to provide justice to every litigant. He said the case against Musharraf was of very serious nature and the superior judiciary should take notice of it and intervene. He said like trial of politicians the court should not hesitate to take trial against a military dictator to its logical conclusion.

Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa’s judgment on former chief justice Hameed Dogar’s appeal against the special court’s order to include others in the Musharraf high treason case was not complied with. His judgment says: “The Special Court is expected to proceed with the trial of respondent No 2 (Musharraf) without any unnecessary delay.” The apex court has not taken any notice of its compliance despite a lapse of one year.

Similarly, the apex court on October 19, 2012, announced a judgment in the Asghar Khan case in which it had clearly stated that former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan, ex-army chief Aslam Beg and ex-DG ISI Gen (r) Asad Durrani acted in violation of the Constitution by facilitating a group of politicians and political parties. “The acts of Mirza Aslam Beg and Asad Durrani have brought a bad name to Pakistan and its armed forces as well as its secret agencies in the eyes of the nation,” the SC said, directing the federal government to take necessary steps against them under the Constitution and law, although they had retired from service.

The legal experts are of opinion that the Supreme Court should have proceeded in the same manner against the army men as it did in cases against politicians and civilians.

The apex court supervised compliance of its judgments directly or indirectly in the National Reconciliation Ordinance, the rental power projects, National Insurance Company Limited (NICL), the appointment of Tauqir Sadiq as Ogra chairman, Bank of Punjab, Hajj scam, missing of ISAF containers cases and sought reports from the FIA or the NAB. Former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was sent home for not writing a letter to Swiss courts. Former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had issued a contempt of court notice to former interior minister Rehman Malik for transferring Tariq Khosa as he was heading an FIA team which investigated corruption in Pakistan Steel Mills.

However, in the appeals against the death sentences awarded by the military court, the lawyers who represented the convicted persons’ families had complained to the apex court bench that despite its orders the record of military courts trial was not shown to them, but the bench which heard the cases neither took contempt notice nor did it pass any judgment against the military officials.

A petition challenging the removal of Musharraf’s name from the ECL is pending even after lapse of two years.

Abida Malik, wife of Tasif Malik, had filed an application before the court to arrange a meeting with her husband detained in an internment centre in Kohat. The then chief justice Nasir-ul-Mulk had passed an order to arrange the meeting, but despite the clear order, Abida Malik has not been able to meet her husband. Although she had filed a contempt of court petition, no action was taken against the internment centre authorities. Similarly, the Lal Masjid case also is still pending.

Tariq Asad said that ex-premier Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif had made history by following the Supreme Court order and appeared before the joint investigation team. Former PMs – Sharif and Gilani – not only appeared before the court but also stepped down following the apex court judgments, he said.

On the other hand, when the military personnel were summoned by the courts, they, instead of complying with the orders, took refuge in the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology, Rawalpindi.

Musharraf was summoned by the special court on three occasions in the high treason case, but he defied the orders. When non-bailable warrants were served on him and the Islamabad police were directed to produce him before the court, he was admitted to the AFIC.

Former Defence Secretary Lt-Gen Asif Yasin Malik was issued a contempt of court notice in December 2013 in a case of local government polls in cantonments. The next day he also got himself admitted to the AFIC and remained there till the retirement of ex-CJP Iftikhar who had summoned him.

Similarly, when Balochistan Frontier Corps Inspector General Maj-Gen Ijaz Shah was issued a contempt of court notice by the Supreme Court in a law and order case, he was also admitted to the AFIC in connection with a heart ailment.