ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court suspended on Thursday a joint investigation team (JIT) formed to probe the assets of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader and former opposition leader Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah.
An IHC division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Ghulam Azam Qambrani stopped the JIT from conducting probe against Mr Shah. However, the court held that the investigation officer of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) may continue the probe into this matter.
Senator Raza Rabbani, the counsel for Mr Shah, challenged the notification regarding constitution of the JIT.
NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal had in January formed the JIT to hold probe against the PPP leader for allegedly owning assets beyond means.
The JIT, headed by Multan NAB director general Atiqur Rehman, comprised Federal Board of Revenue official Abdul Hafeez, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan’s deputy registrar Rizwan Haroon, Federal Investigation Agency’s circle-in-charge Sajjad Mustafa Bajwa and NAB’s deputy director (investigation) Abdul Hassan.
Mr Rabbani argued before the IHC bench that Mr Shah had been facing an inquiry relating to his assets since 2001 which was closed in 2012. He said the incumbent NAB chairman reopened the inquiry in September last year, and pursuant to his directives, the NAB investigation officer issued a call-up notice to Mr Shah.
He said the investigation officer had concluded the probe and filed a reference in the accountability court of Sukkur in December last year.
Mr Rabbani argued that the NAB chairman had in January constituted the JIT to reinvestigate the matter.
When Justice Farooq asked if the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 empowered the NAB chairman to form a JIT, Mr Rabbani replied in the negative and said that despite the fact that there was no such provision in the NAO, the chairman had issued the directives to form the JIT without any legal backing.
He further said that under the law, the investigation officer was a competent authority to hold an inquiry or investigation.
The court suspended the notification of JIT and adjourned the hearing to March 26.
Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2020