Smear campaign: Top court warns against hindering JIT inquiry

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ISLAMABAD: 

The Supreme Court has warned that any impediment to the working of the joint investigation team (JIT) probing the money-laundering allegations against the Sharif family will be taken as ‘subversion’ of its April 20 judgment in the Panamagate case.

“It is not [the] JIT, but the Supreme Court that is being implicated,” said Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, heading the three-justice special bench.

Commenting over the ongoing ‘campaign’ against the judiciary, the JIT in particular, in the wake of the probe into the Panamagate, Justice Ejaz added they would not be intimidated and “threats cannot stop them from reaching their destiny.

He lamented that some responsible media persons were distorting the facts but added that they would go by the book and law. “It would have been better, if people gave comments on the media after knowing the facts.”

Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh, commenting over the JIT’s apprehensions regarding different government departments, said: “The JIT has alleged that certain offences have been committed by state functionaries.”

The judges also asked Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali to look into the JIT’s grievances and recommend today (Thursday) what measures could be taken to resolve the issue.

The bench on Wednesday took up Hussain Nawaz’s plea against video recording of witnesses during interrogation. After hearing the arguments of Khawaja Haris, the counsel for Hussain Nawaz, the bench reserved its judgment.

During the hearing, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan observed that they were taking notes of what was being said and they would deal with that matter after the completion of the inquiry. He, while commenting over Hussain’s different applications, observed: “It’s an attempt to hamper the JIT investigation.”

“If Hussain’s picture has been leaked, then what’s harm in it,” he said, adding the gentleman (Hussain) was respectfully sitting in the chair during his interrogation. “Video recording is protecting him, rather than harming him.”

Justice Ijaz also wondered over Khawaja Haris’ argument that video recording has psychological effect on witnesses. He observed that his concerns were political rather than legal.

Justice Ejaz observed: “Video recording cannot be used as substance evidence.” However, he said one of his arguments was that whether video recording would be a substitute to signatory statement.

Haris raised serious reservations over video-recording of witnesses. He also said he was not habitual in filing applications to hamper justice. The counsel expressed apprehension that today (Thursday) Prime Minister was going to appear to record his statement before the JIT and if the video recording would again be leaked on social media then it would have much greater consequences.

The counsel in his written rejoinder over the JIT’s reply raised concerns over the language used by the team.

“The tone and tenor adopted and the harsh language employed by the JIT members in their reply to Hussain’s application unequivocally demonstrates its animosity towards Hussain and his family members,” he adds.

The rejoinder states that once the JIT members have confessed that the leakage of the “screenshot” of Hussain Nawaz taken from a CCTV monitor in the interrogation room indeed took place, it does not lie in the mouth of any of the members of the JIT to say that it is unfounded and unwarranted or to shirk their responsibility for the leakage.

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