ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will not tolerate hurdles in the way of the investigation being carried out by a team of the offshore business dealings of the prime minister’s family.

The three-judge bench formed for the implementation of Panama case judgement reserved judgment on Hussain Nawaz petition regarding video recording of witnesses’ statement.

The court directed the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) to file reply on the JIT objections that the state institutions were creating hurdles in their way.

“Creating obstacles and impediments are just like to subvert the apex court judgment [delivered on April 20 in Panama Papers case],” head of the bench, Justice Ejaz Afzal said during the hearing.

“We have directed the JIT (joint investigation team) to investigate, therefore, if someone did this [created obstructions] then he is not subverting the JIT but the court order,” he remarked. The JIT is bound to complete the investigation within 60 days, he reiterated.

On the issue of video recording of witness statements, AGP Ashtar Ausaf told the bench that he was in complete agreement with the arguments of petitioner’s counsel Khawaja Haris.

He said that the JIT had been doing video recording on its own, without getting court permission. Also, he said that video recording has a negative psychological affect on witnesses.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked that the video recording instead of causing harm would protect the witnesses.

Earlier, Khawaja Haris, representing PM’s son Hussain Nawaz, contended that the video recording seemed to be sinister rather keeping accurate transcription.

He argued that when the law (CrPc 1898) did not require a witness to sign on the statement given to the investigative officer then why there should be camera on their face to record his statement.

The lawyer said that if a witness photograph could be leaked to the social media once, it could happen again. He asked what was the guarantee that leak would not happen again.

Haris said that “tomorrow (Thursday)” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was going to appear before the JIT and what was the guarantee that his picture would not be leaked.

If that happens, who will be responsible as it would damage the image of the country in the whole world.

The lawyer said that the JIT has said about the Hussain photo leak that the person responsible for it has been sent back to their parent department.

“No one can be judge for his own cause,” he said, and demanded that the judicial commission should be constituted to probe the leaking of Hussain Nawaz’ photo to the media.

Haris also submitted a rejoinder to the JIT’s reply on Hussain Nawaz application.

He said that it was confession on the part of the JIT that they could not control the leak.

The counsel questioned whether the video recording of witness statement was permissible under the law.

He pointed out that under Section 161(1) of CrPC 1898 a police officer might examine orally any person supposed to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case, while in Section 161 (3) the police officer may reduce into writing any statement made to him in the course of examination.

Haris said that under Section 162 of CrPC the statement to the police not to be signed and used in evidence. He said that there was a rationale behind the century-old developed law.

The lawyer stated that when under Section 162 of CrPC the statement could not be signed then why the JIT was doing video recording. He argued that the JIT was given mandate to investigate in accordance with the judgment of the Supreme Court, but no procedure was prescribed.

The implementation bench subsequently passed an order in this regard that the JIT would exercise power under CrPc, the NAB and the FIA Act.

Haris contended that according to it, the JIT has to exercise power under the CrPC.

Justice Ejaz said that the status of video recording of the statement would remain as that of oral statement and the video could not be produced as substantive evidence under Section 162 of CrPC and the Section 151 of Qanoon-e-Shahadat, and it is also not for corroboration. It could only be used to confront the witness.

“Nothing terrible lies in the video recording,” Justice Ejaz said. He said that if the technology was used for accuracy then what was bad about it.

Haris said that let the legislature decide about the accuracy and the means to secure it, and the Supreme Court could not make the law on video recording.

It would affect the freedom of witness, adding the witness has to be unhampered in stating what he has to say, he added.

Hussain’s counsel raised objection that if the video recording could not be used as substantive evidence then why it was needed in the first place. The JIT was not conferred power for video recording of statement, he held.

Haris referred the judgments of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Indian courts and also the Privy Council. He said that in India they had amended the law to permit video recording, but in Pakistan the legislature had not done so.

The lawyer said the video recording could not be permissible unless the legislature make law in this regard.

Justice Ejaz again said that the video recording could not be used in the court, adding what would be used was the written statement of the witness.

Haris said that there would be psychological affect on the witness of the video recording. He questioned what would happen if the video recording was tampered with.

Before the conclusion of the case, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf spokesman Fawad Chaudhry at the rostrum said he had filed an application regarding the alleged derogatory campaign against the higher judiciary.

Fawad said that he had brought media comments into the notice of court.

The bench observed that it was in their knowledge that what comments were being made on media.

“We have been hearing comments through newspapers,” Justice Ejaz said, and added that the media had already commented over judgments and “we know about the campaign”. “But we are proceeding in accordance with law and we don’t care who says what,” he added.

Justice Ejaz further said that they believed that comments even negative should have some solid substance.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that they would look into it as data was being collected regarding the media comments over the matter. “Once we are done with this case then we would sort it out,” he said.

The AGP stated that he has been reiterating that the apex court should restrain the politicians and parties concerned in the matter in hand from giving comments over the case in media.

At this, Justice Azmat asked the attorney general why he does not advise the government and its ministers against making comments on the court proceedings.