ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday deferred the announcement of its ruling on video recording of interrogation of witnesses by the joint investigation team (JIT) probing the Panama Papers case since its members were busy interrogating Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Federal Judicial Academy.
On Wednesday, the three-judge special implementation bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, had adjourned its proceedings for Thursday on video recording of interrogation of witnesses and concerns expressed by the JIT over impediments being created in its way by some government institutions.
On Thursday Justice Khan, addressing Attorney General (AG) Ashtar Ausaf, observed that the court had been told that the JIT members were not available today.
The AG was required to inform the court about his response after looking into a JIT application highlighting impediments in their way by tampering with documents by the government institutions. The court had asked the AG to address the concerns voiced by the JIT and suggest remedial measures to rectify the same.
Postponement caused by absence of JIT members who were busy interrogating PM
The AG said that since he was also required to appear before the Senate Standing Committee on Information, the court should adjourn the matter till Tuesday.
But the court decided to take up the matter again on Monday when it is expected to announce its reserved order to determine should video recording of witnesses during interrogation be done away with or allowed to continue.
The judgement was reserved in the wake of a rejoinder by Hussain Nawaz, the elder son of the prime minister, disputing the JIT’s reply on the leak of his picture and seeking a directive for immediate cessation of video recording of testimonies since it amounted to signing of the statement by the witness, which otherwise is not approved by the relevant law.
Mr Nawaz, in his rejoinder drafted by senior counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed, had denied allegations of belligerency of tone or tenor or use of harsh language employed by him in his earlier application before the court as alleged by the JIT. Rather, he alleged, it was the JIT members who had used such language and adopted such tone and tenor in their reply.
As a matter of fact, he said, the tone and tenor and harsh language employed by the JIT members in their reply to his application unequivocally demonstrated their animosity towards the applicant and his family members.
Referring to the JIT’s objection to Mr Nawaz’s request for a judicial inquiry into the leak of his picture, he said that there were no false and fanciful allegations in the context of the release of his image showing him sitting on a chair before the JIT.
It was surprising that the JIT members were referring to the factum of the leak as false and fanciful allegations while confessing that the leak had taken place on account of an unnamed person employed by them and under their control, he said.
Having confessed about the leak and the picture’s circulation in the social media, the JIT had tried to absolve itself from responsibility by asserting that it had identified the culprit and submitted a report to the court, Mr Nawaz argued.
He said that neither the name of the culprit nor his designation had been revealed by the JIT nor had it been explained under what provisions of law a departmental inquiry had been conducted against the individual and on which date and under what procedure appropriate disciplinary action had been taken against him.
He said that in any case identifying the culprit and taking action against him did not absolve the JIT members of the responsibility for the leak. Because the premises from where the leak took place and the CCTV camera were under the control of the JIT members and security was provided by the agency to which one of the members of the JIT belonged, Mr Nawaz added.