ISLAMABAD  -    The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed all the parties in the case, pertaining to alleged illegal allotment of Waqf property attached to a Pakpattan shrine involving former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, to submit their replies on a joint investigation team (JIT) report on the matter.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Munib Akhtar directed the parties to submit the replies within 2 weeks and adjourned the hearing until after the month of Ramzan.

During the hearing, Dewan Ghulam Qutab’s counsel Iftikhar Gilani said that he had already submitted his objections on the report and that the apex court had taken notice of the matter after 29 years.

Justice Bandial asked if the land was the property of the then government or of Auqaf. Advocate Gilani responded that Auqaf only takes care of the properties and does not have any property of its own. Justice Bandial said that the question is that why the then chief minister had signed a summary and given the land to a private individual.

Former Punjab governor Rafiq Rajwana appeared in the top court for the first time to represent Sharif and said that the property was only given to the caretaker of the shrine to look after. He added that the caretaker had then sold the land.

Rajwana said that the secretary of Aukaf had issued a notification to take back the land from the Aukaf administration and added that Sharif had nothing to do with the matter.

He further argued while signing the summary no one thought what would happen in the future. He termed the JIT report a “one-man report”.

Justice Bandial remarked that government lands should be protected and said that the summary for the allotment of the land had been approved by the then chief minister.  He observed that the decision to allot the land was in violation of the court order.

The allegation against Sharif is that he being the chief minister of Punjab in 1986 ordered withdrawal of a notification issued in 1969 and returned Auqaf land to Dewan Ghulam Qutab in violation of the court’s order.

In January JIT filed its report wherein it had revealed that Sharif illegally allotted thousands of acres of Waqf property attached to shrine of Hazrat Baba Farid-ud-Din Ganj Shakkar in Pakpattan during his tenure as Punjab Chief Minister. The JIT had recommended criminal proceedings against Sharif.

However, Sharif on February 16 rejected the JIT report arguing that the Report does not even refer to any document whereby JIT members may have been nominated and does not even purport to have been prepared by or on behalf of a JIT nor is it signed by any person other than Hussain Asghar.

“The bare perusal of the “Report” shows that it is a “Report” prepared unilaterally by Mr. Hussain Asghar, while the order sheet of this august Court unequivocally establishes that no such authority was conferred on him by this august Court.”

“Without prejudice to the foregoing, it is submitted that the Report of Mr. Hussain Asghar has been prepared in an utterly biased and one-sided manner, without following the due process and legal formalities and in grave violation of the answering respondent’s fundamental rights and in breach of Article 4,9,10-A,14 and 15 of the Constitution.”

Sharif also gave reasons for rejection of the Report against him. He contends that he had not been issued notice in this respect adding that it appears that the Report has been prepared merely relying on the solitary written note made by Syed Javed Iqbal Bukhari, the then Secretary to the Chief Minister.

“In fact Mr. Hussain Asghar, in his zeal to implicate the answering respondent (Sharif) in some wrongdoing or the other, has completely ignored the fact that the particulars of the Notification mentioned in the “summary” alleged to have originated from the Chief Minister’s Office do not tally with the particulars of the Notification that was actually withdrawn by the Auqaf Department, so that as a matter of fact no order or summary originating from the then CM’s office bears the reference Number or date of the Notification.”

It submitted that the malafides of Asghar in preparing this abundantly biased and one-sided report is further evident in that, despite the fact that it has been noted in his Report that Administrator Auqaf Punjab Kaleem Ullah pointed out that the notification number and the date mentioned in the application of Dewan GulamQutab-ud-Din, and in the purported approval by the CM in the Summary do not match with each other.

“There is no piece of cogent evidence collected by or mentioned in Mr. Hussain Asghar’s Report which suggests that the answering respondent (Sharif) has connived with anyone including the Dewans and thereby has benefited in any manner whatsoever.”

The Report is neither supported by the written statement or note by any person who may have been associated by Asghar during investigation purportedly carried out by him, or by any document referred to in the Report, the objections stated.

“Thus, Mr. Hussain Asghar, without any evidence, has concluded that the answering respondent (Sharif) was in any manner “prima facie, involved in the misappropriation of state land of Auqaf Department.”