ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Law Ministry to communicate the legal opinion to the Federal Investigation Agency soon about the inclusion of former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani in investigations into the Hajj corruption case in perspective of the constitutional immunity available to him.
A three-judge bench, led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, was presented a report by Investigation Officer Hussain Asghar.
The report stated that evidence of 44 witnesses had been recorded and six more witnesses were left now. “Evidence is not available against Hamid Saeed Kazmi. The Interior Ministry did not allow Hussain Asghar to file an application seeking rejection of his bail and his bail plea was accepted on August, 27,” the report added.
During Monday’s proceedings, Azam Khan said that evidence was not sufficient to get bail of Saeed Kazmi cancelled.
Hussain Asghar told the court that Saeed Kazmi influenced the witnesses by expressing his views on television; therefore, application was filed to seek cancellation of his bail. Justice Chaudhry remarked, "You did not file an application for cancellation of his bail directly. The FIA had not filed any application under the law it should have done so.” Azam Khan said his application was still pending for hearing.
Investigation Officer Hussain Asghar said application had become time-barred and he was not empowered to file any application directly. The Interior ministry had not mandated him. Justice Ejaz Afzal remarked if some accused misused bail, then the prosecutor general could resort to the court against him.
Justice Chaudhry observed, "You need not approach the Interior Ministry in connection with cancellation of bail. We are saying you could submit application for cancellation of bail by citing some other reason. Abusing the Apex Court on television programmes had become a daily routine.
The court admonished the counsel for the federation for supporting Hamid Saeed Kazmi, with the chief justice remarking, "You are counsel for the federation not of the accused. You should review your attitude. You should oppose the accused, but you are defending him. Time remains not the same always. Whosoever has done something will have to face it. You can file application on new grounds".
Hussain Asghar said, "We have announced a prize on arrest of the accused in Saudi Arabia. The FIA team will soon be dispatched. We have also talked to the Saudi government. The Interior Ministry be directed to cooperate with us on this matter.” Justice Chaudhry inquired “how many new letters had been written and applications had been sent by you to the Interior Ministry”.
Asghar replied over half a dozen letters had been written. “The accused Faiz Ahmad has not been arrested so far. Efforts are underway and this all can be done through the Interior Ministry,” he went on to say.
The chief justice remarked, “We will ask the Interior Secretary as to why he was doing so. His reply has not been received; why he is not cooperating with the FIA and what are the reasons behind it.”
Justice Chaudhry further inquired if he had contacted the director general that such things were happening.
Asghar said "Yes, we have talked to him. He is taking steps on his own. Red notices have been issued; these notices do not mean arresting the accused only but it also implies tracking the accused down.
The chief justice observed "You can get cancel his passport. We have come to know his passport has been cancelled and he is living in Saudi Arabia illegally. Please talk to the NCB. He is head of Interpol and that he can cooperate on the matter of Ahmad Faiz.” “Prima facie, it seems the Interior Ministry is not cooperating,” the bench led by the chief justice observed.
Upon this, Asghar said if the Interior Ministry cooperated, then the Saudi government would cooperate. “The Saudi government (it) cannot expel him unless he held visa.”
Prosecutor Azhar Chaudhry told the court Hamid Kazmi was granted bail after he had completed legal period in detention.
The court stated, "In view of Hussain Asghar the accused is misusing bail granted to him and he is trying to influence the witnesses through the media. The FIA can file application in connection with cancellation of the bail of the accused for pressuring the courts by him. The matter is under hearing since 2012. Trial court should take necessary steps, dispose of the matter and not allow any accused to influence the case.”
The court added, “We wonder over the status of Ahmad Faiz as his passport has been cancelled, but he is not being arrested. It is binding on the Interior Ministry to write a letter to the Saudi government for taking necessary steps. The court directed the interior secretary to contact the Saudi government for immediate shifting of Ahmad Faiz to Pakistan; it may be ensured that it cooperates to dispose of the case as soon as possible.”
The chief justice inquired if 25 Riyal which were taken from each pilgrim had been returned. “Is this process going on or has it been stopped. Who has come from the Ministry of Religious Affairs in this respect,” he questioned.
Asghar told the court a cheque amounting to over 435,000 had been sent and the amount had been paid to concerned persons. “Investigations have been completed in respect of Zain Sukhera and Najib Malik. Challan in this respect could not be presented being the application filed in the Islamabad High Court.”
The investigation officer said Hajj Affairs Director General Rao Shakil was removed from the exit control list (ECL) after his appointment. “National Accountability Bureau trial was also going on. We had summoned Yousuf Raza Gilani, but he refused to come saying he enjoyed immunity as per the Constitution. The matter was referred to the Law Ministry, but no reply had so for been received from them,” he added.
Hussain Asghar told the court “Rao Shakil was placed on the ECL. Former establishment secretary knew it but he had appointed Shakil”. He further said the former prime minister was also involved with reference to Zain Sukhera as the former had appointed him as the joint secretary and consultant in the Prime Minister’s House. The hearing of the case was adjourned till March 15.