ISLAMABAD: The joint investigation team (JIT) looking into allegations of money laundering against the Sharif family told the Supreme Court on Monday that certain government institutions were obstructing the team’s access to relevant records as well as forging and tampering with documents.

Though the allegations were not directly levelled by JIT head Wajid Zia, the information was made public in the open court without further explanation by Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, a member of the three-judge Supreme Court implementation bench formed to oversee the investigation of the Sharif family in the light of Panama Papers revelations.

“The JIT has levelled serious allegations — that certain institutions are changing and creating obstructions, while also indulging in forgery and tampering with records,” said Justice Ahsan.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who is presiding over the bench, also expressed apprehensions over the JIT’s ability to complete the probe in time if its work was obstructed in this way.

JIT report on Hussain Nawaz photo leak alleges campaign afoot to discredit work

Meanwhile, in a report that was leaked to the media, the JIT told the SC that Hussain Nawaz’s request for a judicial inquiry into the leak of his photograph on social media was “entirely unwarranted” and should be dismissed.

“The false and fanciful allegations are part of a character-assassination campaign against JIT members, which has been ongoing since its constitution by the apex court to disrupt, delay and frustrate investigations being carried out by JIT,” the report said.

“The object of these allegations and the prayer for a judicial inquiry is also motivated by the same ulterior motives in a thinly-veiled attempt to mislead not only the court but also the opinion of the general public,” the JIT said, adding that the demand for a judicial inquiry exhibited a contemptuous disregard for the due process.

On Monday, Justice Khan suggested that Hussain Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed go through the JIT’s report on the photo leak.

The court also asked Additional Attorney General (AAG) Mohammad Waqar Rana to go through the reports and, if he was of the opinion that these should also be provided to the other side, then he should make them public.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed also told the AAG that the court expected him to represent the federation and not the federal government, since Mr Hussain’s application had far-reaching consequences.

Justice Khan explained that the JIT had also explained why they were video-recording the interrogations — to ensure the accurate preparation of a transcript. He added that video recording had not been barred under Sections 161 and 162 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which deal with the recording of witnesses’ statements.

Justice Ahsan also asked the AAG to consider how come state functionaries, summoned by the JIT, were able to release their statements to the media immediately after appearing before investigators. He was apparently referring to media reports regarding the complaint filed by National Bank of Pakistan president Saeed Ahmed.

The report stated that the JIT had initiated a comprehensive probe that had identified the culprit within 24 hours of the leak, and had also reported the matter to the apex court.

The individual in question has been immediately removed from his assigned duties and reverted to his parent department. The department has also confirmed that a departmental inquiry has been completed and appropriate disciplinary action is being taken against the individual.

The inquiry report furnished by the JIT also gave factual background on the unauthorised dissemination of the image and the apparent motive of the person responsible for the leak.

In its report, the JIT detailed what happened on May 28, when Hussain Nawaz appeared at the Federal Judicial Academy for interrogation. Stating that its proceedings were brief and limited, the JIT maintained that despite receiving a summons to appear on May 28 with all the relevant record, Hussain Nawaz appeared without any papers and refused to answer any questions put to him that day on the pretext that the matter was sub judice before the apex court and asked the JIT to summon him some other day.

A totally contrary and “false scenario” — of full cooperation by Hussain Nawaz – was however presented and portrayed before the court during the hearing on May 29, the report said. It claimed that the “concocted” narrative of Hussain Nawaz’s “helplessness and utter surrender” was nothing but a cynical stratagem to discredit the JIT and its work, as well as a desperate attempt to prejudice the court against the JIT members.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2017