Supreme Court seeks more names for JIT

Updated 04 May 2017


ISLAMABAD: The anxiously-awaited formation of the six-man joint investigation team (JIT) on the Panama Papers was further delayed on Wednesday after a special bench of the Supreme Court expressed its dissatisfaction with the representatives suggested by the central bank and the regulator of the corporate sector.

“We expect people with integrity,” observed Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who heads the three-judge bench for the implementation of the judgement in the Panama Papers case.

Soon after court staff unsealed envelopes containing names sent by different institutions, the judge observed that everything must be open and transparent.

According to the April 20 judgement, lists of potential appointees were to be submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), National Accountability Bureau (NAB), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Military Intelligence (MI) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) within a week of the verdict.

Asks SBP, SECP heads to appear on Friday; judge wants people with integrity

The three-judge special bench — consisting of Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, who handed down the majority judgement in the Panama Papers case — was constituted by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

But the court did not explain why it did not accept the suggestions submitted by the SBP and SECP.

“The names sent by the SBP and SECP should be above board, [people] who should know how to do their job,” observed Justice Ahsan.

“And competent too,” prompted Attorney General (AG) Ashtar Ausaf.

Consequently, the Supreme Court asked acting SBP Governor Riaz Riazuddin and SECP chairman Mohammad Zafar Hijazi to appear before it on Friday (May 5) with a complete list of officers in grade 18 or above in their respective departments.

The court will itself pick the individuals who will become part of the JIT, which will then commence a probe against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his sons Hussain and Hassan Nawaz over the allegations stemming from the Panama Papers leaks.

On Wednesday, Justice Saeed observed that the implementation bench would look into the credentials and pick names of capable officers from the list, approving the formation of the JIT. “The court will ensure that all proceedings are conducted in an impartial and transparent manner,” he said.

The AG assured the court that he would get in touch with the heads of the SBP and SECP, and asked whether the court’s observations about the credentials of the officers were tentative in nature, to which the court answered in the affirmative.

Justice Saeed also made it clear that the court would not be held hostage and cautioned that any attempt to drag feet on anyone’s part would attract consequences.

Justice Ahsan also said the court would not tolerate any excuses or delays in sending the names.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2017