- ‘Give us proof of the bank accounts or face consequences,’ SC warns Shahid Masood
- Zainab’s father requests top court to appoint serving military officer as head of investigation
- Chief justice orders cessation of forming judicial commissions
LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Sunday formed a new joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the claims made by television anchor Dr Shahid Masood about the suspect in Zainab Amin’s rape and murder case, while barring Muhammad Amin ─ the father of seven-year-old Zainab who was raped and murdered in Kasur earlier this month ─ and his lawyer from holding further press conferences.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar gave the order for the JIT while presiding over the three-member apex bench conducting a suo motu hearing into the Zainab case at the SC’s Lahore registry.
The chief justice ordered Masood, who was present in court, to appear before the newly formed JIT — which will be led by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Bashir Ahmed — and present evidence to back his claims.
The anchorperson had claimed during a late night show that Zainab’s suspected rapist and murderer was a member of a pornography gang, which also includes a Punjab minister. During the previous hearing of the case, Masood had also told the court that the suspect has 37 foreign accounts.
His claims about the bank accounts, however, were rejected by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in its report to the JIT that was formed earlier by the Punjab government to probe the rape and murder of Zainab.
“Do not talk about unrelated matters; give us proof of the bank accounts,” the chief justice told the anchor during the hearing. “If the statements you have made turn out to be true, we will give you the medal for number one journalist.”
“If your news turns out to be untrue, [then] you cannot even imagine what will happen,” the chief justice warned.
During the hearing, Masood requested time from the court to allow him to complete what he wished to say regarding the case. He went on to claim that Zainab was gang-raped, adding that only one criminal had been arrested.
“They are trying to protect the gang that they have nurtured,” he added.
“Are you aware that these allegations can change the direction of the investigations?” the chief justice asked the anchor.
Masood said that if he isn’t permitted to have his say, he will also ‘escape’ like former SSP Rao Anwar “in a local flight,” to which the CJP said that SC will give orders to place Masood’s name on ECL if he tries to escape.
“Investigation of the case is not your duty, but the investigation team’s task,” CJP said.
The chief justice clarified that the Bashir Ahmed-led JIT would operate separately from the one formed earlier by the Punjab government.
“The Mohammad Idrees-led JIT will only investigate the murder case,” the chief justice said, adding that the new JIT would focus on Masood’s allegations.
The court ordered that investigations into the case should be completed as soon as possible and a challan should be filed. Prosecutor General Punjab Ehtisham Qadir was asked to oversee the filing of the challan.
Zainab’s father barred from speaking to media:
Meanwhile, the apex court restrained Zainab’s father, Amin Ansari, and his lawyer from speaking to the press. It asked him to cooperate with the police investigating the rape and murder of his daughter.
Zainab’s father’s counsel Aftab Bajwa requested to appoint a serving military officer as the head of the investigation team.
The top court gave a ten-day deadline to Punjab police to complete and submit the challan. However, Zainab’s father has shown mistrust over the investigation conducted by Punjab police
He requested that the killer of his daughter should be given exemplary punishment so that such crime should not be committed ever again.
A number of television anchors appeared today to assist the court in the wake of anchor Dr Shahid Masood’s claims, which were denied by the State Bank of Pakistan and the Joint Investigation Team formed to probe Zainab murder case.
CJP orders more security for Zainab’s killer:
The bench directed the police to provide security to family members of Zainab. It also summoned record of the relevant DSP and two station house officers of Kasur.
The apex court directed the police to complete investigation into the rape-murder case at the earliest and submit charge-sheet in the relevant court.
It also directed the police to beef up the security of the suspect.
No more judicial commissions: CJP
Moreover, during the hearing, the chief justice ordered the cessation of forming judicial commissions, observing that matters go into the backburner when such commissions are formed.
“No one will make a commission in the future as conducting an investigation is the right way to probe a case,” the chief justice observed.
The chief justice then barred the prime minister and chief ministers from forming judicial commissions and observed that no one should contact him in this regard anymore.