In what appears to be yet another twist, former Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director-general Bashir Memon has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan did not take Supreme Court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa's name during meetings with him.
Speaking on Hum News programme 'Breaking Point with Malick' on Saturday night, Memon said he had met the prime minister for two to three minutes in which "no particular case was discussed".
When the host, Mohammad Malick, asked Memon whether the prime minister had taken Justice Isa's name during the meeting, Memon replied in the negative. He, however, remained firm on the names of other government officials who he claimed had pressured him to initiate a case against the Supreme Court judge.
His comments came days after the former FIA chief alleged that he was pressured by Prime Minister Imran, Law Minister Farogh Naseem and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar to initiate a case against Justice Isa — allegations that were denied swiftly by government officials.
Speaking to Geo News, the former FIA DG had said he was first called to the Prime Minister's Office where the premier told him he was "a very good officer" and to "have strength".
He said he was later taken to Shahzad Akbar's office where it was revealed he was to proceed against Justice Isa. Later, he also allegedly visited the law minister's office. "Naseem was also convinced that a case should be made against Justice Isa and asked me to play a role."
Memon said he tried to explain how this was not possible as Justice Isa was a Supreme Court judge. "This is the job of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and it has the constitutional authority. It does not fall within the FIA's terms of reference (TORs)."
He claimed that the ministers still tried to convince him to proceed.
Sharing a video clip of Memon's interview on Hum News on Twitter, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said: "Level allegations at the prime minister, make headlines and then easily take a U-turn later. If you say [something] to media channels, then media freedom is in danger. If you ask the guest, [then there is a slogan of] political revenge. This needs to end."
In the programme, Memon said he was in favour of a judicial commission being constituted to look into the incident. "If I'm a liar, that will be proved and if I'm honest, that will be proved."
The former director general said the meetings were a matter of record. "No man can go just like that in the Prime Minister's Office, Prime Minister's House or anywhere. My staff knew why I was going [there] too. The record must be present somewhere. It is not a matter of such great worry."
Govt denies allegations
In a meeting with select journalists last week, the prime minister denied the allegations and said he had never asked Memon to file a reference or initiate investigations against Justice Isa.
"When I knew that he (Memon) could not file any reference against the sitting judge, then why would I order him to do so?" the prime minister was quoted as saying by an anchor who attended the meeting.
The law minister and the adviser also denied Memon's allegations, with the latter saying Memon was "never told to start any case against any specific individual".
Akbar's lawyers also sent a defamation notice worth Rs500 million to Memon, terming his allegations "false, politically motivated and absurd" and demanding an unconditional apology.
The notice stated that Memon "without any evidence or factual basis blamed [Akbar] of pressurising you in an alleged meeting held at [Akbar's] office and painted a false narrative as if [the premier's aide] holds some malicious agenda against" Justice Isa.
The notice asked Memon to retract his statements within 14 days and issue an "unconditional public apology" via newspaper and electronic media along with paying Rs500m as "compensation for causing irreparable damage to [Akbar's] reputation".
Justice Isa case
On April 27, in a dramatic twist, the Supreme Court by a majority of six to four overturned its June 19, 2020 majority judgement that required verification and subsequent findings by the tax authorities of three foreign properties in the name of the wife and children of Justice Isa.
The presidential reference against Justice Isa — in line to become the chief justice on September 18, 2023, for 13 months — was already thrown out by the SC as "invalid" in June last year.
The reference by the government in May 2019 had alleged that Justice Isa acquired three properties in London on lease in the name of his wife and children between 2011 and 2015, but did not disclose them in his wealth returns. Through his petition, Justice Isa had pleaded before the court that the powers that be wanted to remove him from his constitutional office by hook or by crook. President Arif Alvi, he had claimed, did not form his own independent opinion before the filing of the reference against him.