SC orders law ministry to give opinion about ex-PM’s status in Haj scam case


The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the law ministry to communicate legal opinion to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on including former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in the probe into Haj corruption case.

A three-member SC bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry took up the case for hearing on Monday.

Investigation Officer Hussain Asghar presented his report on the case in the court. The report said that evidences from 44 witnesses had been recorded and six more witnesses had been left, while adding that evidence was not available against Hamid Saeed Kazmi. The interior ministry did not allow the investigation officer to file an application seeking rejection of Kazmi’s bail, and that his bail plea was accepted on August 27, the report said.

During the hearing, FIA Director (Legal) Azam Khan said there was not enough evidence to get Kazami’s bail cancelled. Asghar told the court that Kazmi had influenced the witnesses by expressing his views on TV therefore the application was filed to seek cancellation of his bail.

The CJP remarked, “You did not file the application for cancellation of his bail directly. The FIA had not filed the application under the law, which it should have followed.” Khan replied that his application was still pending for hearing.

Asghar said the application had become time-bound, and that he was not empowered to file the application directly. The interior ministry did not grant permission in this respect, he added.

Justice Ejaz Afzal remarked if an accused misuses bail, then the prosecutor general could move the court against him. The CJP observed, “You need not approach the interior ministry in connection with the cancellation of bail. We are saying that you could submit the application for bail cancellation by citing some other reason.”

The court also admonished the federation’s counsel for supporting Kazmi. “You are a lawyer for the federation and not for the accused. You should review your attitude. You should oppose the accused but you are defending him. Time does not remain the same always. Whoever has done something will have to face it. You can file an application on new grounds,” the CJP remarked.

Asghar said, “We have announced a prize on the arrest of the accused in Saudi Arabia. An FIA team will soon be dispatched. We have also talked to the Saudi government. The interior ministry will be directed to cooperate with us on this matter.” The CJP asked him how many new letters and applications he had written to the interior ministry. He replied that he had sent over half a dozen letters. He further said that Faiz Ahmad, another accused, had not been arrested so far. “Efforts are underway and this all can be done through the interior ministry,” he added.

The CJP said the court would ask the interior secretary why he was not cooperating with the FIA and what were the reasons behind it. He further asked if Asghar had contacted the director general (DG) and told him that such things were happening. Asghar replied, “Yes we have talked to him. He is taking steps on his own. Red notices have been issued. Red notices do not mean arresting the accused only, but it also means tracing the accused.”

The CJP told him to get the accused’s passport cancelled. Asghar said that if the interior ministry cooperates, then the Saudi government would also cooperate. He said the Saudi government could not expel him unless he does not hold a visa. Prosecutor Azhar Chaudhry told the court that Kazmi was granted bail after he had completed the legal period in detention.

The court said: “In view of Hussain Asghar, the accused is misusing the bail granted to him and he is turning to influence the witnesses through media. The FIA can file an application for the cancellation of the accused’s bail for pressurising the courts. The matter is under hearing since 2012. The trial court should take necessary steps, dispose off the matter and not allow any accused to influence the case. 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 directs the interior secretary to contact the Saudi government for immediate shifting of Ahmad Faiz to Pakistan and it may be ensured that it cooperates to dispose off the case as soon as possible.”

The CJP enquired if 25 riyals, which were taken from each pilgrim, have been returned. “Is this process going on or has it stopped? Who has come from the Ministry of Religious Affairs in this regard,” he asked.

Asghar told the court that a cheque amounting to over Rs 435,000 had been sent and the amount had been paid to the persons concerned. He said the name of Haj DG Rao Shakil had been removed from the ECL after his appointment.

“We had summoned Yousaf Raza Gilani but he refused to come, saying he enjoyed immunity as per constitution. The matter was referred to law ministry but no reply has been received so for from its side,” he said, adding that Rao Shakil had been placed on the ECL. He said the former establishment secretary had appointed Shakil despite knowing that his name was on the ECL.

Asghar said that the former prime minister was also involved with reference to Zain Sukhera as the former had appointed him as joint secretary and consultant in the PM’s House.

The court ordered the law ministry to give legal opinion to FIA on Gilani’s claim that he enjoyed immunity under the constitution, and adjourned the hearing of the case until March 15.