ISLAMABAD: The special bench of the Supreme Court will hold proceedings today over the government’s response to the Panama case Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) charges that its probe is being impeded by certain official quarters.
Proceedings of the three-member bench could not be held on Thursday as the JIT members could not show up in court owing to the premier’s questioning by them on the same day. The case was then adjourned till Monday (today).
The bench is headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and includes Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh.
At the hearing on on Wednesday, the court had reserved its decision on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son, Hussain Nawaz’s, petition challenging the recording of the JIT proceedings and had also directed the attorney general (AG) to submit his response to the JIT’s report on ‘impediments’ faced by it.
The AG, on Friday, submitted the government’s response to the JIT’s charges in the Supreme Court.
In it, all the government agencies, departments and ministry, including the Prime Minister House, have rejected charges of pressuring witnesses and delaying the high-profile probe.
Also on Saturday, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif appeared before the JIT to become the fourth member of the Sharif family summoned for the probe.
Following the session, the Punjab chief minister said that every penny earned by his family is accounted for, adding that all assets owned by the family are part of the family’s private wealth and have nothing to do with public funds.
He also rejected all allegations of wrongdoing and corruption hurled by his opponents.
The JIT has summoned the premier’s elder son, Hussain Nawaz, five times and his younger son, Hassan, twice so far.
The Supreme Court decided to begin investigating the Sharif family in November last year after the main political parties failed to agree on a committee to probe the April 2016 Panama Papers leaks, and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan threatened mass protests and to ‘shut down Islamabad’ in protest on November 2.
On April 20, the five-member Supreme Court bench gave its verdict in the case with the judgment split 3-2 in favour of a further probe against the premier’s family wealth. The other two judges had ruled that sufficient evidence was available for the prime minister to be de-seated.
The JIT — formed on May 6 — was given 60 days to complete its probe into the Sharif family’s international financial dealings and submit its report to the Supreme Court’s special implementation bench overseeing its proceedings.
The JIT team is headed by Federal Investigation Agency Additional Director Wajid Zia, and includes members from Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, State Bank of Pakistan and the National Accountability Bureau.