ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed two senior lawyers as amicus curies to assist it on what action warranted against Minister for Science and Technology Azam Swati on his alleged influence in transfer of Inspector General of Islamabad in the backdrop of a scuffle with poor neighbours.
Swati is not only accused of misusing his office for transfer of IG but also influenced police to get the family members of neighbours including women arrested.
The top court appointed former Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan and another eminent Faisal Siddiqui in the case after Barrister Ali Zafar, counsel representing Swati, contended before the bench that his case does not fall under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution, which entails disqualification of a parliamentarian.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heading a three-judge bench during the hearing of the case lambasted Swati and questioned whether it is appropriate for the ruler of the time to treat the people in such a manner. “Is it the role of the rulers to incarcerate women for mere complaints of entering of grazing cow in the fields, when in reality nothing sort of such incident took place,” asked the CJ.
He then hinted at proceeding the matter under Article 62(1)(f) and directed the counsel to argue the case keeping in view the said Article.
Insisting that Swati has no role in transfer, Barrister Zafar opposed proceeding under Article 62(1)(f) and contended that there is no such precedent. He further added that the transfer of Jan Muhammad from the post of IG Islamabad was already under consideration.
At this, the CJ remarked that this court can make precedent if not available in the past. “Let it be the first example in the country,” the Chief Justice observed adding that the episode ignited the circumstances and these are the known facts.
“Your information minister was also displeased on court’s interference in the administrative matter. Inform him (Fawad Chaudhry) about the powers of judicial review,” remarked the CJ adding that this court might ask the prime minister to come and explain how it happened.
The CJ told the counsel to get prepared since the court intends to invoke Article 62(1)(f) against the minister further observing that this court can record evidence.
On this, President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Amanullah Kanrani interfered and requested the bench not to proceed the matter under Article 62(1)(f) saying that Swati’s crime is not as big as the punishment under Article 62(1)(f).
The Chief Justice wondered why Kanrani being the president of the bar association defending Swati, a federal minister.
Kanrani said that he is not defending as president of bar but Sawati was his colleague when he was a senator.
Attorney General Anwar Mansoor informed the bench that FIR has been registered against Swati and challan will be submitted in three days.
During the course of hearing, the Chief Justice also grilled the new IG Islamabad Amir Zulfiqar for his inaction. He asked the IG Islamabad as what has he done.
IG responded that since the matter is subjudice so he did nothing. The CJ reprimanded him and said it was not subjudice adding: “you are found negligent in the duty”. “Is this your performance being here for last month,” the Chief Justice said, adding the negligence on part of IG is apparent and that he surrendered after getting the post.
Meanwhile, Swati in his reply on the report of Investigation Team (JIT) stated that he was not present at the scene of occurrence, was not an eye witness and did not get register the FIR and therefore he cannot confirm the contents of the FIR.
The reply stated that Swati was however informed by his son Usman Swati about the incident, adding upon receiving this information Swati was naturally very concerned about the security and safety of his family and he immediately sought police help so that the matter does not accelerate and his family was not harmed or get injured.
The reply added that Swati did not influence anyone in the police or otherwise misused his office to get FIR registered or get anyone arrested or to direct anyone to give arbitrary and discriminatory treatment to the accused.
All actions including the arrest of the neighbouring people were done by police on their own, the reply added.
He stated that if the case according to the FIR has to proceed then the question whether the incident occurred as stated in the FIR or as per the JIT report has to be ascertained by a proper trial under Article 10A of the constitution before a competent forum.
It added that no finding may be recorded by the Supreme Court in these suo motu proceedings under Article 184(3) of the constitution lest it prejudice the case of anyone in the trial court.
“The contents of JIT report itself show and prove that Swati did not wield any influence or prevail upon the authorities as alleged, the reply stated adding if the concerned police official came to the scene of occurrence and were informed of the occurrence they were doing their duty and not working under influence.”
The reply also denied that Swati ever encroached upon any CDA land, adding that outside the boundary walls of Swati’s property hundreds of kanals of CDA lands have been encroached upon by people who have built their houses or put up barbed wires or pillars or even made ditches as fish ponds.
“What is happening outside the boundary wall of Swati’s property has no relation with him and is not his responsibility,” the reply said.
About notice by CDA, it stated that if in case there are any encroachments, or building violations CDA may specify these and Swati will either defend the allegation in accordance with the law or comply, the reply said.
About allegations of tax evasion, Swati denied the contents of the report and submitted that he has disclosed and declared all his income and assets and paid all his taxes both in USA and Pakistan.
However, Swati welcomes any probe by FBR and would like his name to be cleared.
CJP hints at Swati’s trial under Article 62