ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Monday turned down the plea of PM Nawaz Sharif’s son Hussain Nawaz against two members of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) digging the ruling family’s assets abroad.

 “We are not going to remove, change or eliminate anyone [JIT member] unless there is concrete evidence. We would not go by the surmises and conjectures. Let the team collect evidence and material and if any time we notice an element of partiality or partisan, then we will not let them [JIT members] go escort-free,” said Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan.

A three-member special bench, headed by Justice Ejaz , heard the petition of Hussain and the PM’s cousin Tariq Shafi. Hussain expressed apprehensions against Amir Aziz of the State Bank of Pakistan and Bilal Rasool of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), alleging they had “links with former president Pervaiz Musharraf and PTI”.

 “We don’t want that the purpose of the investigation is lost. We would not allow the JIT members to deviate from the course of law. We are examining the JIT reports and anytime we got an inkling what is required is not produced, then would take action,” the judge maintained.

Earlier, the court issued a bailable warrant for National Bank of Pakistan President Saeed Ahmed as he showed reluctance to appear before the JIT and directed him to show up today (Tuesday).

“In the first place, issue bailable warrant but if he fails to appear, then a non-bailable warrant would be issued,” Justice Ejaz maintained.

JIT head Wajid Zia, who is also Additional Director General of FIA, informed the court that they had summoned Saeed Ahmed but he objected,  demanding the team send him a questionnaire.

He told the court that they had sent letters to Qatari Prince Sheikh Hammad bin Jaber bin Jasim Al-Thani and Kashif Masood through special courier for appearance before the JIT.

 “Sheikh Hammad has declined, while Kashif replied that he has security concern in Pakistan.”

Justice Azmat said: “If somebody does not come, then let him not come and you proceed. If Sheikh Hammad does not come then there will be no value of the Qatari letter.”

During the proceeding, Justice Ijazul Ahsan said the team had been directed to submit the report fortnightly. He said that they are closely monitoring the report. If they find bias or partiality then they would look into it, “but don’t like to discourage the JIT as they have to finish the job in 60 days”.

The judge said that persons who are called to appear are fully aware which document has to produce, as it has been mentioned in the Panama leaks judgment. He said that the investigation is not from the scratch but it is from the Supreme Court judgment. “If Hussain Nawaz is not aware, then he should see the judgment,” he added.

Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf contended that the JIT summon(s) should contain the list of documents which are required.

Justice Azmat told him that in Punjab when the police summon anyone for interrogation they tell him to bring so and so documents. “We don’t expect this from you. The AGP should not be taking a side,” Justice Azmat said.

Khawaja Haris, representing Hussain and Tariq Shafi, contended that there should be a balance in the investigation. He said that Hussain wrote letters to the JIT but “its members do not maintain them”. The counsel said there should be impartial people in the JIT.

Haris contended that the JIT team members are behaving like ‘Pharaoh’. At this, Justice Azmat said: “No one is Pharaoh. We [judges] are not Pharaoh and they [JIT] are not Pharaoh.” The right to interrogate a person should be respected, he said.

The counsel told the court that the JIT members asked questions from Tariq Shafi who persuaded him (Shafi) to appear before the JIT so early. “If you were in Saudi Arabia, then why did you came so early and who forced you to appear before the JIT,” Haris told the court while referring to the JIT members’ queries from Tariq Shafi.

Khawaja Haris said that Tariq Shafi was forced to withdraw the affidavit or portion of it, which he had given during the proceeding of the Panama case. The (JIT) members threatened Tariq Shafi that “if he would not withdraw the affidavit then they would send him to jail,” the lawyer further told the court.

He said that Amir Aziz, who is representing the SBP, is not the employee of the bank. He said that “this way he is not impartial. He is working in a company, which was a subsidiary of Al-Taufiq Bank”.

Justice Azmat said that it never happens which question be asked from a person, appearing before the investigation team, and “which questions that person does not like to reply”. He said “if your clients don’t want to cooperate with the JIT, then don’t do it, but you can’t dictate them. The person who has to be interrogated can’t dictate the investigators”. The judge said, “if the investigators from within Pakistan are not trusted, then angles from the heaven would have to be called for investigation”.

Khawaja Haris said the attitude of the JIT members could jeopardise his clients’ defence and case. He said that Bilal Rasool, another member of the JIT and a nominee of SECP, is related to Mian Azhar, who has joined the PTI. He said Bilal’s wife is an ardent supporter of the PTI and had launched a campaign in the social media against the PML-N during the Panama leaks proceedings.

Justice Azmat said, “This could not happen that the persons interrogating the PM and his family are picked by the premier as he is the chief executive and all the departments are under him”.

Justice Ejaz said that after considering the experience and expertise of Rasool and Aziz, they had been selected to represent the SECP and SBP. “The apprehension must have the reasons,” he added.

The court asked Khawaja Haris that his clients have targeted these two members of the JIT who are experts in investigating white-collar crime and money-laundering cases. The bench asked the JIT to continue its work.

the job in 60 days”.  The judge said that persons who are called to appear are fully aware which document has to produce, as it has been mentioned in the Panama leaks judgment. He said that the investigation is not from the scratch but it is from the Supreme Court judgment. “If Hussain Nawaz is not aware, then he should see the judgment,” he added.

Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf contended that the JIT summon(s) should contain the list of documents which are required.  Justice Azmat told him that in Punjab when the police summon anyone for interrogation they tell him to bring so and so documents. “We don’t expect this from you. The AGP should not be taking a side,” Justice Azmat said.

Khawaja Haris, representing Hussain and Tariq Shafi, contended that there should be a balance in the investigation. He said that Hussain wrote letters to the JIT but “its members do not maintain them”. The counsel said there should be impartial people in the JIT.

Haris contended that the JIT team members are behaving like ‘Pharaoh’. At this, Justice Azmat said: “No one is Pharaoh. We [judges] are not Pharaoh and they [JIT] are not Pharaoh.” The right to interrogate a person should be respected, he said. The counsel told the court that the JIT members asked questions from Tariq Shafi who persuaded him (Shafi) to appear before the JIT so early. “If you were in Saudi Arabia, then why did you came so early and who forced you to appear before the JIT,” Haris told the court while referring to the JIT members’ queries from Tariq Shafi.

Khawaja Haris said that Tariq Shafi was forced to withdraw the affidavit or portion of it, which he had given during the proceeding of the Panama case. The (JIT) members threatened Tariq Shafi that “if he would not withdraw the affidavit then they would send him to jail,” the lawyer further told the court.

He said that Amir Aziz, who is representing the SBP, is not the employee of the bank. He said that “this way he is not impartial. He is working in a company, which was a subsidiary of Al-Taufiq Bank”.

Justice Azmat said that it never happens which question be asked from a person, appearing before the investigation team, and “which questions that person does not like to reply”. He said “if your clients don’t want to cooperate with the JIT, then don’t do it, but you can’t dictate them. The person who has to be interrogated can’t dictate the investigators”. The judge said, “if the investigators from within Pakistan are not trusted, then angles from the heaven would have to be called for investigation”.

Khawaja Haris said the attitude of the JIT members could jeopardise his clients’ defence and case. He said that Bilal Rasool, another member of the JIT and a nominee of SECP, is related to Mian Azhar, who has joined the PTI. He said Bilal’s wife is an ardent supporter of the PTI and had launched a campaign in the social media against the PML-N during the Panama leaks proceedings.

Justice Azmat said, “This could not happen that the persons interrogating the PM and his family are picked by the premier as he is the chief executive and all the departments are under him”.

Justice Ejaz said that after considering the experience and expertise of Rasool and Aziz, they had been selected to represent the SECP and SBP. “The apprehension must have the reasons,” he added. The court asked Khawaja Haris that his clients have targeted these two members of the JIT who are experts in investigating white-collar crime and money-laundering cases. The bench asked the JIT to continue its work.