ISLAMABAD - TERENCE J SIGAMONY - The Supreme Court Friday, while hearing the Rs 7 billion Ephedrine scam, observed that Narcotics Control Acting Secretary Zafar Abbas Lak had attempted to create an atmosphere so that the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) authorities could not investigate the case impartially.

The court also declared that the acting secretary could not assume the charge of the ANF DG (director general).

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, observed: “We are unable to understand as to why instead of allowing transparent and fair investigation in the case, such an anxiety is being shown by the (acting) secretary. This indicates clear intervention in the investigation, as an attempt has been made to create the atmosphere so that the ANF authorities could not probe the case fearlessly.”

The court said the ANF authorities must conduct the investigation of the case fairly, independently and transparently and should not malign anyone unnecessarily in view of the importance of the case they. However, they were free to proceed with the matter in accordance with law.

The court suspended the April 3, 18 and 19 orders of Zafar Abbas Lak regarding closing down of the proceeding of the case as well as stopping the funds, which are being paid to the special prosecutors.

It also said: “We are conscious of the fact that as far as the cases pertaining to the narcotics and drug trafficking are concerned, they are required to be controlled, investigated and prosecuted mainly by the ANF; therefore, issuance of directives by the secretary not to release the funds to the prosecutors would tantamount to interference in the court’s functions.

Thus, under the circumstances the orders - dated 03.04.2012; 18.04.2012; and 19.04.2012 - are suspended.”

The court also allowed Salman Akram Raja to appear as counsel on behalf of Prime Minister’s son Ali Musa Gilani and ex-secretary health Khushnood Akhtar Lashari in this case. On whether former ANF DG Maj-Gen Syed Shakeel Hussain should continue to hold the charge or otherwise, the court said according to his own version, he had been called back by the Defence authorities;, therefore, any clarification should sought from the quarters concerned.

About the transfer of Director ANF Brigadier Akhtar, the court directed the acting secretary to reverse the orders.

During the course of proceedings, the court grilled Zafar Abbas, when he alleged that the ANF officers were mutinous and they did not follow rules and orders. He also alleged that the ANF commanders trapped the people by hiding heroin in their luggage or vehicle. “Tomorrow they can do the same with the prime minister,” he added.

Reacting to his emotional attitude, the court warned of sending him to jail, as it was the court’s order to investigate the case. “What is your motive to play on front foot in this case,” the CJP further asked him.

Justice Khilji Arif Hussain questioned it means that thousands of other cases registered by ANF were also fake.

Salman Raja said he had gone through all the record of the case but was amazed that why his clients were declared as accused.

He stated that he had advised them to join the investigation with the narcotics authorities and if need be to appear before this court. He would also file a concise statement on his behalf.

Later, the court adjourned the hearing for three weeks.