ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday issued a notice to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on a petition of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan’s (SECP) former chairman Zafar Hijazi who has sought court directives for quashing an FIR registered against him by the agency for allegedly tampering with records of the Sharif family’s companies.

IHC judge Mohsin Akhtar Kayani took up the petition and deferred the hearing till September 27 after issuing notice to the FIA.

Hijazi filed the petition through his counsel Syed Ishfaq Hussain Naqvi making the Federation through the Ministry of Interior, the FIA through its Director General and the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) Islamabad SHO as respondents.

The former SECP chairman contended that a probe against a public company namely Chaudhry Sugar Mills Limited was initiated in 2011 on two fold allegations, namely the money-laundering and the investigation under Section 263 of the Companies Ordinance, 1984 for probing compliance of international accounting standard (IAS 19) regarding employees benefits and receivables of Rs121 million and thus two separate files were opened for the said two actions (money-laundering and routine examination) in the SECP.

He said the second file pertaining to the routine examination of the affairs of the company under section 263 of the Companies Ordinance, 1984 (now repealed) was not formally closed through a proper note due to an omission. The said fact was admitted and acknowledged by the officials concerned who attributed the same to a bona fide omission or inadvertence.

The petitioner said that the said proceedings were initiated, conducted and withdrawn by the officials concerned of the SECP prior to the appointment of the petitioner as SECP chairman in December 2014. The petitioner neither supervised the said proceedings nor had any remote concern with it.

Later, he maintained, the media highlighted the issue of money-laundering and the officials concerned were asked to prepare a briefing, while in the course of preparation, the said omission was revealed.

The officials concerned inserted the note in the second file pertaining to the proceedings under section 263 of the repealed ordinance but the same was dated as 14-01-2013. The petitioner, however, was kept in the dark about the insertion of a back dated note in the second file.

The petitioner said that the officials of SECP, who had initiated the proceedings, conducted the same, closed the said proceedings and added the said ante dated note. The Joint Investigation Team, in Panama Papers case, started probing the said note while those involved, falsely blamed the petitioner, to save their skin while the said persons accused him that the note was added on his instruction.

The petitioner continued that an inquiry was directed by the apex court to probe the said note and in this regard, an FIA team was appointed to conduct the inquiry and submit a report. A report was submitted by the FIA, after the conclusion of the probe, to the Supreme Court whereby the lodging of the FIR against the petitioner was recommended.

Resultantly, he said, the FIR (13/17) was lodged against the petitioner on July 10 under sections 466, 471 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947.

Hijazi contended that the petitioner has been subjected to and has become a victim of mala fide investigation by the prosecution. The charges framed under the FIR were motivated by enmity, malice, and ulterior motives on part of the prosecution and the prosecution witnesses, as was evident from the facts and circumstances of the case.

He argued that the offences under Sections 466/471 of the PPC read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 subject matter of the impugned FIR were not made out, which warrants quashing of the FIR.

He said that it was an admitted fact that the petitioner was a public servant, whereas Section 466 makes the offence of forging a document applicable to a person who has done so by “purporting” the document “to be made by a public servant in his official capacity”. The provisions of Section 466 were, therefore, inapplicable to the instant case.

The former SECP chief said that section 466 begins with the word “whoever forges a document” and similar is the expression of section 471. “Ms Maheen Fatima and Ali Azeem Ikram have admitted having added the note and do not deny the same, therefore, the same can neither be treated as forged nor can be termed tampered. The word “tamper” connotes the idea of an already existing document and then an alteration in it. It is submitted without conceding that the direction to add the note, in any stretch of the imagination, does not fall within the ambit and scope of Sections 466 or 471,” the petitioner said.

“Therefore, the impugned FIR may be quashed and it may be declared without jurisdiction, arbitrary, illegal, void, without lawful authority and of no legal effect,” he said. He further requested that the respondents may be restrained from taking any adverse action against him pursuant to the FIR.