ARU chief files rejoinder in apex court

Updated Jun 03 2020

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Says no surveillance was done before sending reference against Justice Isa. — Dawn/File
Says no surveillance was done before sending reference against Justice Isa. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) Chairman Mirza Shahzad Akbar vehemently denied that any surveillance or covert surveillance was conducted in relation to Justice Qazi Faez Isa or his family before sending a presidential reference against the judge on misconduct.

In a rejoinder to the petition moved by Justice Isa, the ARU chairman said the owners of alleged immovable properties in question could not raise any objection against anyone seeking details in relation to their UK properties.

In a recent application Justice Isa had challenged the credentials of the ARU chairman by alleging that Shahzad Akbar had gathered information about the Supreme Court judge and his family but does not reveal the same about himself and his family and why does he not disclose his properties, assets and accounts etc.

In response, Shahzad Akbar explained that as head of the ARU, he received no salary or any other benefits.

Says no surveillance was done before sending reference against Justice Isa

The rejoinder stated that the immovable properties in the UK were compulsory registrable in the UK Land Registry and therefore an open source. Thus, there was no secrecy attached to it and that there was no reasonable expectation or privacy with regard to details of any immovable property in the UK, the rejoinder stated.

The details of those residing in any immovable property in the UK could be accessed through open source websites such as 192.com and UKphonebook.com, the rejoinder stated, adding once the address was determined, the owner of that immovable property can be found through other open sources such as the UK Land Registry.

The ARU chairman also denied all adverse averments made in the main petition, adding the petitioner judge could not launch any collateral attack on the formation, establishment or working of the ARU nor could any collateral attack be launched on the appointment or working of its chairman.

The rejoinder explained that the functions and duties of the ARU chairman as an expert on the international criminal law was recorded in a Note No 1 (29/2019/ARU of March 19, 2019), which inter alia includes his work / job to prepare cases and study with particular reference to white collar crimes, mutual legal assistance, to refer to the relevant agencies the matter upon acquiring any evidence attained in respect of foreign assets or bank accounts of Pakistani citizens or residents.

The rejoinder also pointed out that a similar task force/committee had been constituted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a suo motu hearing on foreign assets and bank accounts.

The apex court was informed about the initiatives of the present government in checking the flight of the capital and repatriation of illegal assets abroad.

The rejoinder contended that to make the ARU fully functional, the cabinet through Nov 19, 2018 notification had created different posts including one expert on the international criminal law in MP-I Scale.

And in order to fill in the vacancies in the ARU, posts were advertised and for such purpose the cabinet secretariat issued a letter on Nov 22, 2018 after which vacancies were advertised.

After the process of shortlisting and interviews, Mr Akbar was proposed to be appointed as an expert on the international criminal law in the MP-I scale, the rejoinder explained. Finally on Jan 18, 2019, Mr Akbar was duly appointed as an expert on the international criminal law in the ARU which was to function under the cabinet division, the rejoinder stated.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2020