Immunity cannot be granted without being sought: CJP

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The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that immunity in a case could not be granted to a person at his home, but the same should be sought from the courts.

The bench also observed that a former PM was claiming exemption from appearing before the court but he must come up with solid arguments and grounds in favor of his claim.

These observations were made by a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry and Justice Gulzar Ahmed during the hearing of multi-billion Haj corruption scam during the regime of Yousaf Raza Gilani.

Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry asked the attorney general to explain the grounds on which former Prime Minister Gilani was seeking exemption to appear before the bench in the Haj corruption scandal.

However, Additional Attorney General Shah Khawar replied that he himself was amazed to hear the claim, as under no constitutional provision did he enjoy immunity from appearing before the court.

Upon this, the chief justice remarked that immunity could not be awarded by courts, for this a person had to appear and claim it from the court.

During the course of proceeding, the chief justice expressed concern over the lingering Haj corruption case and stated, “How many years will it take to conclude this case.”

He remarked that after orders were passed by the apex court, the previous government had paid Rs 260 million among the affected, however, more had to be done to provide justice to Haj affectees.

The chief justice inquired from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) about the arrest of Ahmed Faiz, the main culprit involved in the scam.

FIA Director Azam Khan apprised the bench that the agency had made several attempts for his arrest and in this regard the interior and foreign ministries had also written letters to the Saudi officials, but no reply had been received until now.

Khan said the red notice for his arrest had been issued, however, he admitted that FIA was not sure whether Faiz was in Saudi Arabia.

Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked that the Saudi officials had full record of each and every person in their country, adding that thousands of illegal Pakistanis were being deported from Saudi Arabia, because they were residing there illegally.

Hussain Asghar, the investigation officer informed the bench that he had apprised the Saudi government about the hide-outs of Faiz, but they refrained from taking any action against him.

The FIA director said the property of another culprit, Rao Shakeel, had been seized.

He argued that the Saudis were not cooperating in carrying out smooth investigation.

Later, the bench sought a written reply from the government over the main points of Haj corruption case by the next date of hearing and adjourned the case until July 23.