ISLAMABAD - The State Bank of Pakistan on Wednesday challenged the apex court’s order to indict two of its officials for violating its 2006 judgment in a case relating to money laundering.

The two-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan on April 28 had decided to frame charges against the four SBP officials namely Second Secretary FBR Dr Sadiqullah, Joint Director Exchange Policy Department SBP Aftab Iqbal Siddiqui, Director SBP Syed Samad Hussain and Additional Collector Customs Abdur Razzaq over violation of its verdict on money laundering.

In August 2006, a passenger Allah Bakhsh was arrested at Islamabad Airport while travelling to Beijing when he was trying to smuggle out $100,000 and Chinese Yuan 2600. The customs department confiscated the amount and registered money laundering case against him. He was released later and by relaxing the rules the dollars were also returned to him.

The contempt proceedings were initiated by former chief justice Nasirul Mulk on an anonymous letter in Urdu language titled “Jail Companion.”

The letter had regretted that the FBR through its notification of August 18, 2010, as well as SBP through its order of September 15, 2010, ordered regularization of the foreign currency earlier seized by the Customs Department on the charges of money laundering. Not only a no objection certificate was issued by the important government departments but the money was also ordered to be released despite the fact that the Special Judge Customs Rawalpindi on May 29, 2010 had awarded five years jail term to Allah Bakhsh with a fine of Rs500, 000.

The letter alleged that special treatment was meted out to Allah Bakhsh at the behest of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani since he remained with him in Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi.

The SBP through Khawaja Muhammad Farooq advocate has submitted an intra-court appeal (ICA) against the court’s April 28 order to indict two of its officials.

The ICA states that the SBP had no role whatsoever in return of currency. Even the NOC demanded by the Customs authorities for return of foreign currency was not required under any provision of law.

“The return of foreign currency was exclusively within the jurisdiction of Customs suthorities/ FBR and SBP had no authority to direct the return of currency,” says the ICA.

The SBP also pointed out that it is normal practice of the superior courts not to rely on anonymous complaints without first verifying the identity of the complainant and correctness of the contents of complaint, adding that no such exercise was undertaken before issuing notices to the bank executives.

The SBP also contended that there was no violation of the court’s order in the present case and no contempt case was made out under the provisions of section 3 of Contempt of Courts Ordinance 2003. The ICA says that this contempt does not fall under the definition of judicial contempt or criminal contempt as defined under section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003.

It is further stated the bench while summoning the bank officials has not given due consideration to their replies over show cause notices. The bank has requested the SC to set aside its April 28 order, wherein the court had rejected their officials’ replies and decided to indict them on the next date of hearing.