ISLAMABAD - Former president Asif Ali Zardari’s alleged front man Anwar Majeed, owner of Omni Group, on Wednesday filed a petition before Supreme Court seeking review on its January 7 order in the case regarding billions of rupees alleged money laundering through fake bank accounts.

Anwar Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed, another shareholder of the Omni Group, filed a joint review petition through their counsel Advocate Shahid Hamid seeking review of each of the 7 directions contained in January 7 order.

These directions include referring the matter to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for fresh investigation and filing a reference within 2 months. The orders were issued after the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which initially probed the matter, submitted its damning report against Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah, and terming the alleged abettors including owners of Omni Group as front men of Zardari. 

The petitioners contended that they had not been given copies of the documents including account statements, STRs and CTRs and statements of 924 individuals. Therefore, the petitioners contended, they were unable to make any comprehensive reply.

They further argued that the top court’s earlier order needed an amendment to the effect that copies of all volumes of the JIT report should be furnished to them to satisfy the mandate of Article 10-A.

They contended that the top court had ordered NAB to conduct its inquiry at Islamabad despite the fact that no such request was made by the accountability watchdog, adding that the JIT conducted and concluded its inquiry in Karachi and there is no reason why the NAB could not also hold its inquiry or investigation at Karachi.

The petition states that the offences referred to in the JIT report have allegedly been committed at Karachi and the accused persons, the witnesses, the accounts/documents, relate to Karachi. They requested the top court to recall its directions in this regard.

Regarding filing of references by NAB, it was submitted that the power rests with Chairman NAB under the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 to decide as to where to file a reference having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case.

It is argued that this court might not pre-empt the statutory power conferred in this matter on Chairman NAB especially when it is still to be determined whether any reference is to be filed against the petitioners and if so whether there are any facts and circumstances that lawfully justify filing of such reference before the Accountability Court at Islamabad or Rawalpindi. The review of the order in this regard is also requested.

“This direction merits review and recall for further reason that FIR case no. 4/2018 lodged by FIA against the petitioners and others in relation to the 29 allegedly fake accounts is pending before the Special Judge (banking) at Karachi,” it added.

The petition further contended that the allegations initially were being investigated by the FIA and JIT was formed to assist the FIA in its inquiry.

“It is now for the FIA to take such further action as it deems fit on the basis of this report,” the petition contended adding that the FIA is empowered to investigate and prosecute all the offences alleged against the petitioners and there is no lawful reason to transfer the investigation and prosecution to NAB.

It is further contended that since the time of arrest the petitioners have been requesting for the start and completion of their trial.

“Instead, FIA has failed to file a final challan and caused the trial to linger on and on. This endless delay has caused untold torture and anguish to the petitioners who are both unwell, as established by numerous medical reports filed before this August Court including the report of a team headed by the Surgeon-General of the Pakistan Army.”

It is submitted that the order should contain a direction that the trial be completed by the Special Judge (Banking) without further delay and the petitioners set at liberty as the delay has been caused entirely due to FIA’s inability to investigate.”

It further added that it is evident from a bare perusal of the JIT report the JIT has taken it upon itself to embark upon a witch-hunt against the petitioners and all their family members and anyone having a direct or indirect connection with the petitioners.

“Amongst other things such ratification forecloses petitioner’s rights to challenge the inquiries/ recommendations on the grounds that they are malafide, malicious and motivated by extraneous considerations.”

The petitioners further stated that the FIA has caused a hugely damaging media campaign against them through selective leakages of the progress reports leading up to JIT’s final report.

“These progress reports were not given to the petitioners to rebut the allegations made. The presumption of innocence was set at naught.”

It added that the top court’s order regarding formation of Implementation Bench pre-supposes that NAB will file Reference against the petitioners. 

“This decision is virtually a direction to NAB to file Reference as per the JIT report and forecloses an independent inquiry the more so when this decision/direction is read with the direction that NAB should associate the JIT in its inquires/investigations and the JIT should continue to inquire into other allegations against the petitioners,” the petitioners contended.