–Federal minister says JIT report based on ‘presumptions’
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday remarked that Federal Minister of Science and Technology Azam Swati could be tried under Article 62(1)(f) if his conduct does not fall under the purview of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO).
The remarks were made as a three-member bench of the apex court headed by the CJP resumed hearing of a suo motu case regarding the transfer of Islamabad IGP allegedly at minister’s behest.
Swati, a member of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), is accused of playing a role in the transfer of former Islamabad inspector general of police Jan Mohammad — an allegation over which the SC had pondered taking action against him under Article 62 before forming a JIT.
The former IGP’s transfer took place after Swati’s son registered a case against a family of slum dwellers for allegedly trespassing on his family’s land. Five people, including two women, were arrested for trespassing on the land and beating up Swati’s guards. They were released after a day’s detention as police said a settlement had been reached between the minister and the detained family.
At the outset of the hearing, the CJP said that the court had read the investigation report submitted at the last hearing. In the report, the joint investigation team (JIT) formed to ascertain responsibility in the case had revealed that Swati had ‘misused’ his office and was given special treatment by authorities due to his position.
When told the matter does not fall under NAB laws, the top justice responded that the accused could be tried under Article 62 (1)(f). “Is Swati ready to make a sacrifice? We don’t even want his money for the dam fund,” he remarked.
“There is no such precedent,” Swati’s counsel Ali Zafar replied to use of Article 62 in the case. “We will set a precedent then,” the chief justice retorted.
Commenting on the JIT report, Zafar apprised the bench that his client had been asked 10 questions by the JIT. The first question was about whether the IGP was transferred under pressure from Swati, Zafar said. “The JIT established that the matter had been decided beforehand,” the counsel said.
Justice Nisar said that the IGP was removed because he wouldn’t take phone calls, adding whether the “government wanted to see what a judicial review is”. The AG replied that a probe into the incident had been completed and a challan would be presented within a few days.
In a formal response submitted to the court, Swati’s counsel denied allegations and claimed that his client “did not hurt the victim’s family”. It claimed that minister wouldn’t even “dream” of abusing his power nor did he use police to “mistreat the family of Niaz Muhammad family” as claimed by the JIT.
He labelled the JIT report “presumptuous” and said that a proper trial to establish facts has yet to take place. Furthermore, Swati requested the court to not give any observations in the suo motu case as it could affect his trial.
“The JIT’s findings have many flaws — one of which is its failure to observe the fact that his employees too were severely injured in the clash and admitted to the hospital,” he said.
The top judge also chided the Islamabad Inspector General Police Amir Zulfiqar, asking him what steps he had taken regarding the matter.
The IGP responded that the matter had been pending before the court, which the chief justice dismissed, saying that the capital police chief should have “seen what needed to be done”. The case has been adjourned till December 24.