ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court has warned the Intelligence Bureau against harassing the JIT members, and asked the AGP to advise government against running malicious camping against the judges and the probe team.

Hearing Panama judgment implementation case, the apex court also directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to initiate a probe into the alleged tampering of the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP)’s record.

“We can’t leave everything at the mercy of a person whose assets are being probed into,” Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan said in a strong-worded observation, without taking name of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“If something wrong is done then we will surely intervene,” the head of the three-judge bench remarked.

The court however abstained from passing any order.

“Harassment of JIT members must be stopped forthwith, otherwise we will have to pass unpleasant orders,” remarked Justice Ijazul Ahsen.

The court asked Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf Ali to tell government officials to “remain in limits”.

Justice Ejaz told the JIT members to finish the interrogation within the prescribed time.

He said: “We are warning the JIT that they focus on the job assigned to them without seeing right or left, and complete the task within the 60 days.

“Don’t be distracted what the media and other people say and go on the beeline.”

The bench was hearing the JIT application alleging that the PM House, the SECP, the IB, the NAB (National Accountability Bureau), the FBR (Federal Board of Revenue), and Ministry of Law and Justice were creating impediments and obstacles in their way to interrogate the Sharif family.

The attorney general in a joint reply from all these departments has denied the JIT allegations.

Record Tampering

The bench taking note of alleged tampering of the SECP record ordered FIA director general to look into this matter.

The court observed that the JIT has complained that their work was hampered and that the SECP’s tampering of record was with the approval of its chairman.

Justice Azmat stated that the SECP in its own reply had accepted that prima facie there was tampering.

Justice Azmat questioned as to whether tampering of record was not an offence?

AGP Ashtar Ausaf responded record tampering was an offence under Section 468 PPC and the police or the FIA could probe that.

Justice Ejaz asked the attorney general that they thought he would take action against the SECP chief but instead of recommending action, “you are denying the JIT allegations”.

He said that the AGP represented the federation.

Justice Ejaz also asked the AGP that he should not take anyone’s side.

“We depend upon you and we know your credence. We are giving you opportunity,” he said.

Spying and media campaign

The attorney general was asked to assist and suggest ways and means to stop leaking of information and loitering of the IB personnel outside the residences of the JIT members.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan directed the attorney general to stop the JIT harassment forthwith otherwise, they would pass an order.

He said that indiscriminate leak of information regarding Panama case was going on and there was purpose behind it.

Justice Ejaz noted the media and the government had resorted to a maligning campaign against the JIT and the judges.

“Many things are said and commented upon but we are not scared of anything and would go in accordance with the law,” Justice Ejaz said.

He said: “We can’t be [a] silent spectator. We will take notice.”

About the leak of information, Justice Ejaz said that the IB could not go beyond its jurisdiction.

Justice Azmat said: “We are [a] little hurt.”

He said that the JIT objection about IB was that they had accessed the Facebook account of Bilal Rasool and his wife.

Justice Ijaz said that the IB was not authorised to harass the public servant and the family of the JIT members.

How the IB got the record of the JIT members from the Nadra, which ended up in this court. The IB is acting on behalf of a private person, he added.

Justice Azmat said that the information was not leaked but released to a private person, adding crime was committed as this was against the secret act.

Hussain Nawaz in his petition alleged that Bilal Rasool’s wife was a PTI supporter and had posted on social media against the Sharif family.

Justice Ejaz asked whether the IB have to work for the state or a private person. He said that the IB owed loyalty to the state, added prima facie the IB was misused.

The judge said that the criminal case should have been registered against the IB and asked from the attorney general who could investigate the civil intelligence agency. The attorney general replied “the FIA”.

Justice Azmat said that it was a matter of grave concern, and remarked, “Look at their confidence that they have filed a reply before this court”.

“The IB’s work is not hunky-dory. We have not seen terrorism or white-collar crimes controlled in the country,” Justice Azmat said. He remarked that so many questions hang in the air.

The judge asked from the AGP who is DG IB? He replied Aftab Sultan.

Justice Azmat asked if he was not on extension, and asked, “Was the extension given for this purpose?”

“Don’t use the IB for a private person,” the judge remarked.

The attorney general said that it was a tight rope to walk on.

Justice Azmat replied: “We are walking on a tight rope (too).”

However, the attorney general said that “there is a storm from the other side as the judges are against.”

Justice Azmat asked him, “Whom the judges are against?”

The attorney general stayed quiet.

Justice Ahsan observed that the biggest campaign was being run by the government officials and the eight TV channels.

They are attacking the JIT, he said, and added once they were done with this case, they shall pass an order on this campaign matter also.

Justice Ejaz asked the attorney general to “advice government not to do this [harass the JIT and run campaign against judges]”.

“Our jurisdiction cannot be taken by the media and the political parties. Our judgment is not regulated by the public [opinion],” he said.

Justice Azmat said that they had demonstrated patience despite that they were provoked.

The case is adjourned till today (Tuesday).

SC tells govt to stop harassing JIT