NICL case pits govt against SC

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The government and the Supreme Court appear to have reached a point of confrontation on Wednesday as the apex court suspended a recent show-cause notice issued to FIA Additional Director General Zafar Qureshi by the interior secretary.
Qureshi is heading the FIA team probing the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) scam. A three-member Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Amir Hani Muslim was hearing the NICL scam and on Wednesday directed the interior secretary not to proceed against Zafar Qureshi in the future, besides directing an immediate issuance of a notification of his reinstatement and those of four other officers of his investigation team.
Media campaign: The court took strong exception of a campaign being launched in the media against the judiciary and directed the information secretary to look into the matter and take necessary action. The SC also directed Attorney General Moulvi Anwarul Haq to inform it today (Thursday) whether the government was seriously working to avoid political interference in judicial matters, otherwise it the SC would constitute a judicial commission to take notice of the meddling. The chief justice said the FIA director general had violated the apex court’s orders by not stopping the transfers of four officers of Qureshi’s team.
The court questioned why had the interior secretary issued a show-cause notice to Qureshi when the bench had ordered a halt to the departmental inquiry against Qureshi. On July 7, the SC directed the FIA director general to reverse the transfer of the four officials and halt the departmental inquiry against Qureshi, who is probing the NICL scam. The attorney general had assured the court that until the pending decision of the NICL scam, no departmental inquiry would be initiated against Qureshi. Instead of complying with the apex court’s order, the Interior Ministry issued another explanation notice to Qureshi on July 9, seeking an explanation for an interview with a news agency.
During the hearing on Wednesday, the chief justice asked the attorney general whether he had communicated the court’s order to the FIA DG for reversing the transfer orders of the four officials assisting Qureshi in the NICL scam. The attorney general said he had communicated the court’s order on July 8, however, FIA DG Tahseen Anwar Shah left for London on July 11.
The court observed that the FIA DG had three days to implement the court’s order and submit a reply, but he did not bother doing so. The attorney general said Muhammad Manzoor Chaudhry had taken charge as the acting FIA DG until July 20. “We don’t understand why the court’s orders are not being complied with?” the bench noted. The chief justice directed Anwarul Haq to bring FIA’s acting DG and give him the court’s notification of July 7. “He should be here with the notification and then go straight to jail,” the chief justice said, adding that how was the acting FIA DG not aware of the court’s notification.