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ZAFAR Hijazi
ZAFAR Hijazi

ISLAMABAD: The Islama­bad High Court (IHC) on Monday dismissed the petition of Zafar Hijazi, former chairman of the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), requesting for his acquittal in the case pertaining to tampering with the record of a company owned by the family of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Mr Hijazi sought the court’s direction for the Federal Inv­e­stigation Agency (FIA) to quash the First Information Report (FIR) registered against him after a joint investigation team (JIT) pointed out alleged tampering with the closing note related to the inquiry against Chaudhry Sugar Mills owned by the Sharifs.

The single-member IHC bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani on March 7 reserved its verdict on Mr Hijazi’s petition for acquittal in the said case and another petition against the order of the special judge central for initiating trial proceeding against the petitioner.

In the plea seeking his acquittal, Mr Hijazi alleged that SECP’s officials — Ma­h­een Fatima, Tariq Ahmed, Ali Azeem, Tahir Mahmood and Abid Hussain — were allegedly involved in the case and had falsely blamed him to save their own skin.

SECP’s ex-chairman is charged with tampering with the Sharifs-owned sugar mills’ record

Mr Hijazi pleaded in the petition that the FIR against him should be quashed, claiming that it was illegal, suffered from jurisdictional error and had no legal effect.

Earlier, the special court of the FIA had dismissed the similar application of Mr Hijazi on Nov 10. The special judge central, Irum Niazi, had dismissed the application, observing that there was sufficient evidence to proceed against Mr Hijazi.

The FIA had booked Mr Hijazi on the directives of the Supreme Court, which was hearing a case against the Sharif family in connection with the Panama Papers case.

It may be mentioned that in May last year, Mr Hijazi had disclosed that the Supreme Court’s registrar made him a WhatsApp call and conveyed him the directions that the name of Bilal Rasool should be included in the SECP’s panel for the JIT. The apex court had sought nominations from the FIA, National Acco­untability Bureau, SECP, State Bank of Pakistan, Military Intelli­gence and Inter-Services Intelligence to constitute a six-member team to probe allegations of money laundering against Mr Sharif.

The case against Mr Hijazi was registered on July 10 last year and he was taken into custody on July 21. He has been on bail since Aug 8.

On Oct 27, the special court had framed charges against Mr Hijazi over tampering with record of the sugar mills. Mr Hijazi had pleaded not guilty after the judge indic­ted him under Section 420 (cheating), Section 466 (forgery) and Section 471 (using forged documents as genuine) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Section 5(2)(47) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

After the indictment, the special court of the FIA had directed the prosecution to start producing evidence and witnesses to establish its case.

Later, Mr Hijazi challenged registration of FIR and the order of the special court and since then the IHC had been hearing arguments of parties involved in the case. On Wednesday, the court reserved its judgement on the petitions.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2018