ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday reserved its judgement on a petition of Zafar Hijazi, a former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), who sought acquittal in a case about tampering of records pertaining to companies of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani reserved the verdict on Hijazi’s petition in the said case and another plea against order of a special judge for initiating trial proceedings against the petitioner.

The petitioner sought quashment of an FIR against him in the case pertaining to tampering of records of the Sharif family’s companies on the grounds that some SECP officials — namely, Maheen Fatima, Tariq Ahmed, Ali Azeem, Tahir Mahmood and Abid Hussain — were involved in wrongdoing and had falsely blamed him to save their skin.

According to Hijazi, the FIR is illegal, suffers from jurisdictional error and has no legal effect.

The former SECP chief’s other petition for summary disposal of the FIR was dismissed on Nov 10, when special judge Irum Niazi had observed that there was sufficient evidence to proceed against him.

Zafar Hijazi has sought quashment of FIR against him in case pertaining to tampering of records of Sharif family’s companies

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had booked Hijazi on the directives of Supreme Court, which was hearing a case against the Sharif family in connection with Panamagate. The case was registered on July 10, 2017 and Hijazi was arrested on July 21. He has been on bail since Aug 8.

On Oct 27, the special court had framed charges against Hijazi for allegedly tampering with records of the Chaudhry Sugar Mills owned by the Sharif family.

The former SECP chairman had pleaded not guilty after Judge Niazi had indicted him under Section 420 (cheating), Section 466 (forgery) and Section 471 (using forged documents as genuine) of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 5(2)(47) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

After the indictment, the FIA’s special court had directed the prosecution to start producing evidence and witnesses to establish its case. Later, Hijazi challenged registration of the FIR and the order of the special court and since then the IHC has been hearing arguments of parties involved in the case.

Special court’s judge Niazi, who had granted bail to Hijazi, had noted in her order that “it has yet to be ascertained if Hijazi pressurised his subordinates, or closure of the record in back dates was made with consensus by all of them”.

She observed that a cursory examination of the evidence showed that the backdated note was made after detailed meetings and discussions among the SECP officials as the persons concerned had also signed the document.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2018

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