ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed all review petitions filed by former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto against the January 7 order on alleged billions of rupees money laundering through fake bank accounts.

The top court made it clear that it has not restricted the National Accountability Bureau to conduct probe in Islamabad. However, the court observed NAB may probe the matter anywhere.

Regarding Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa observed that he should have filed application thanking this court for protecting him.

Heading a three-judge Special Bench, he observed that the matter relates to billions of rupees coming out of accounts and nobody can ignore it and that every argument of review petitions is pre-emptive and based on apprehensions.

He said the court cannot adjudicate the matter on the basis of apprehensions, adding that the court has been very careful in the case.He questioned as to what is the concern and anxiety of review petitioner, former president Zardari when he does not own the amount in question.

The other members of the bench were Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, the author of top court’s January 7 judgment on the matter. The bench observed that rights of review petitioners will not be infringed and they have remedy available to avail and that the references by NAB have not been filed yet and this court has not given any final determination rather it referred to NAB to look if any case made out.

Sardar Latif Khosa, appearing on behalf of former president Zardari, raised objections to the scope of Article 184 (3), transfer of investigation to Islamabad and referral of matter to NAB. During the proceedings, Khosa argued on the criteria for suo moto notice.

However, Justice Ahsan told him that much water drowned under the bridges adding that prima facie a case made out and the same was referred to NAB.

He questioned as to why this court should interfere at this stage when the matter is in review jurisdiction.

Chief Justice Khosa observed that this court did not do anything and only referred the matter after receiving the report – the findings of Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

Regarding transfer of case from Karachi to Islamabad, Chief Justice Khosa observed that there were previous orders of this court that officials probing the matter be given protection because they were receiving the threats. “Nothing happens without background,” he observed.

He added that there is an available remedy of the Section 16(c) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 for transfer of case if the reference is filed.

Justice Ahsan told Khosa that Pakistan Rangers were directed to ensure protection and there was a lady witness who said she had been picked up by the Sindh Police and confined for a night.

Questioning the justification of suo moto notice, Khosa contended that there were hundreds and thousands of inquiries pending and suo moto notices are not taken up on these pending inquiries.

Justice Ahsan addressing him questioned whether these hundreds and thousands of pending inquiries related to accounts of some rickshaw drivers and the banks are also denying these accounts.

He told the counsel for Zardari that the counsel had conceded during the hearing of the case and no one challenged the Article 184 (3), under which the suo moto notice was taken.

“You say these are not your accounts then what is your problem,” asked Chief Justice Khosa.

Latif Khosa responded that the family is being harassed and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as well as NAB is investigating the matter on parallel basis.

Justice Ahsan observed there were multiple transactions and the fact-finding inquiry, the JIT Report, was sent to NAB to look into it further and proceed if any case is made out.

He asked why the review petitioners want shortcut. “Isn’t it a positive thing that they (Zardari) will get a clean chit if the levelled allegations are not proven,” asked Justice Ahsan adding that it will clear them and they can rejoice.  “But the law should take its course,” Latif Khosa responded further contending that JIT exceeded its mandate and its steps were given retrospective effect.  However, Chief Justice Khosa again questioned the reference has not been filed yet and it may not be filed then what is the anxiety.

Latif Khosa also gave example of disqualification case of Jahangir Tareen, once a close aide of Prime Minister Imran Khan, wherein it was revealed that he had opened accounts of his servants.

However, Justice Ahsan questioned him whether a wrongdoing is justification of another wrongdoing.

Regarding transfer of cases, Latif Khosa argued that his application of transfer the cases will not be entertained after top court’s order.

“Have you read Section 16(c) of NAO 1999? You will have all this remedy available you can avail,” said Chief Justice. “Your judgment has diluted my right,” responded Latif Khosa.

Latif Khosa also pointed out the arguments not made while hearing the case but later mentioned in the order.  He said that the bench has done ‘trapping’ to him. He further contended that the probe is not the jurisdiction of NAB and FIA has been doing since start and challan has also been submitted.

Justice Ahsan observed that the matter was not completed and it was an ongoing process exposing accounts adding that it is not a criminal case but a case of white collar crime which needs to be discovered.

Khosa questioned the constitution of JIT and contended that there is not law for constitution of JIT.

Justice Ahsan observed that FIA conceded it lacks capacity to inquire huge transactions. Chief Justice Khosa observed that it was constituted under Article 190 to assist the court adding that the court has powers to appoint for assistance.

Khosa responded that FIA, under its Act, is mandated to associate anyone and an official of a government department or agency can only perform its job which is allowed under the law governing it and that the court too cannot order the official to perform certain job.  He further contended that the case in hand is not jurisdiction of NAB because it involves banking transaction.

On the objection of representatives of intelligence apparatus in JIT, the bench observed that they were made part of the JIT under Article 190.

The chief justice observed that in Panama Case the JIT was constituted because institutions were captured and in this case too there is a kind of siege where FIA could not held inquiry. He further observed that the argument of Khosa can be taken where adverse ruling is given but no determination is given by this court in the case in hand.

Farooq H Naek, counsel representing Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur, contended before the bench that the directions contained in top court’s orders are given beyond the parameters. He also argued on the constitution of JIT, adjudication of case under Article 184(3) and transfer of cases from Sindh to Islamabad.

Likewise, Khalid Javed Khan appeared on behalf of Bilawa, Advocate General Sindh Salman Talibuddin appeared on behalf of Sindh Government, Makhdoom Ali Khan appeared on behalf of Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah, Shahid Hamid appeared on behalf of Abdul Ghani Majeed and Anwar Majeed, the owners of Omni Group and Munir Bhatti represented the company Omni Group. The bench however said that the arguments are based on apprehension and dismissed all the review petitions observing that no case of review is made out.