ISLAMABAD - Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar put a dampener on speculations about governor rule in Sindh during the proceedings on Monday, warning the court will not let democracy to be derailed and set aside governor rule within minutes if imposed unconstitutionally.

Heading a two-judge bench seized with the case relating to money laundering through fake bank accounts, the chief justice unequivocally conveyed a message to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led federal government through State Minister for Interior Shehryar Afridi that democracy is the basic feature of the constitution.

“Tell your elders that whatever government intends to do will be in accordance with the Constitution,” he told the state minister, adding the governor rule without properly considering the Constitution will not be allowed and the same will be set aside within minutes.

The CJP further observed that the judiciary had not allowed the democracy to be derailed when there were threats.

On this, State Minister Afridi on behalf of PTI leaders assured the court that no unconstitutional step will be taken by the central government and irresponsible statements will not be issued by them regarding the JIT report.

Afridi had put appearance on orders of chief justice, who expressed displeasure on the cabinet decision regarding placement of names of accused persons including politicians on the Exit Control List (ECL).

Justice Saqib Nisar told the minister to tell his high-ups that this country will not be run on whims but in accordance with the law. He also warned that this court will not spare anyone for passing statements on JIT Report.

The CJP observed that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report on money laundering to the tune of billions of rupees is mere a fact-finding inquiry and not a gospel truth. He observed that the decision of cabinet regarding placement of accused persons’ names on ECL seriously caused prejudice to the present proceedings.

The two-judge bench directed the federal government to reconsider the decision in the next cabinet meeting. The chief justice also hinted at wrapping up the fake accounts matter by January 15.

The CJP is retiring on January 17.

He questioned why there was such kind of exuberance that government put the names on the ECL. He inquired as to how government will justify the placement of names on ECL.

The bench especially expressed reservations on placing the name of CM Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah on ECL. “Even elected Chief Executive’s name has been put on the ECL,” lamented the CJP, adding that the Sindh CM must be given respect.

The bench was informed that Murad Ali Shah’s name was placed on ECL after the calls for his resignation started echoing around.

Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Anwar Mansoor Khan informed the bench that the matter of placing names on ECL came under discussion during cabinet meeting on the letter of JIT Head Ihsan Sadiq which was sent on December 26.

He said that on the basis of this letter the names were placed on ECL. The said letter also mentioned that the compliance report has to be submitted before the top court, he added.

The chief justice grilled JIT head and observed that all the confusion has been created by him and he gave the impression as if these were the court’s orders.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that the federal government should have applied its own mind even after the letter.

The chief justice asked Sadiq regarding the reasons for placing the names of accused persons on ECL.

The JIT head contended that reasons for every accused persons were given along with the letter.

The chief justice asked him whether he was mandated for such act and further observed that JIT’s job was to only inquire but it exceeded its jurisdiction.

Ihsan Sadiq contended that the team’s intentions were that it worked hard so the accused persons may not go free.

The Chief Justice asked about the reasons given by JIT head for CM Sindh. On this, Sadiq maintained that the team had not seen status of accused person rather it considered the role of individuals.

Justice Saqib grilled the JIT head observing the names have been put on ECL despite the fact that this court had not approved the report.

JIT’s counsel Faisal Siddiqui contended that it may have been done in haste but the intentions were bona fide.

“It was for the federal government to examine each and every case,” observed Justice Ahsan.

The top court was further informed that at no point of time the Sindh CM was informed that he was under investigation. The bench was requested to take down the names from ECL.

The bench however rejected the plea and observed that it was the decision of federal government and the government will reconsider the matter.

The chief justice however observed that placing the name on ECL is a stigma and CM Sindh was stigmatised.

“Now if CM Sindh is scheduled to accompany prime minister on his visit to Turkey then what will happen,” he asked and observed that it is beyond his understanding as to why his name was placed on ECL.

Justice Saqib asked whether status of a person is not necessary to be seen while placing his name on ECL.

To this, JIT Head Sadiq contended that status is not seen in investigation rather the role of accused person is seen.

The CJP observed that the JIT was only mandated to carry out investigation and it should perform as directed. Such actions are violation of right of liberty, he observed.

He told the team head that if court can appreciate their efforts then it can also reprimand them.

Earlier, Advocate Sardar Latif Khosa appeared before the bench and informed that he will represent Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur as Advocate Farooq H Naek, their previous counsel, has also been accused in JIT report.

JIT’s counsel Siddiqui informed the bench that there is mention of Naek in the report but no recommendations are made against him.

The bench said Naek will continue representing his clients. And it directed the counsel to submit replies on his clients’ behalf within one week.

JIT’s counsel Siddiqui informed the bench that the team has recommended for filing of 16 references and these will require final investigation by NAB adding that JIT does not determine guilt.

Siddiqui further informed the bench that 9 other cases need further investigation adding that the JIT has not recommended for anyone’s disqualification and arrests.

On this, the bench expressed dissatisfaction on the role of electronic media for discussion on the case despite top court’s orders that opinion cannot be given on sub-judice case.

The CJP asked as to what is concern of the ministers who come on current affair shows and give their analysis adding that this court has not approved the JIT Report yet then why ruckus is being created.

He also admonished the politicians, who criticise judiciary for not putting its own house in order, and observed that reforms in judiciary have to be brought by legislatures.

Chief justice also ordered the Chairman PEMRA to examine whether current affair shows on private channels are in violation of the top court’s earlier judgment, wherein media was barred to hold discussions on pending cases.

The top court also directed Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to probe as to whom and from where the audio tape attributed to Advocate Sardar Latif Khosa was generated.

The court adjourned the hearing till January 6 (Monday).

 

SC won’t let democracy get derailed: CJP