–Court will evaluate if PTI leader can remain MNA if mis-declaration of assets is proven
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Tuesday transferred the probe into Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Azam Swati’s assets to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the police.
The top judge remarked that in case mis-declaration of assets is proven, the court will evaluate if he is qualified to remain a Member of National Assembly (MNA).
The remarks were made as a Supreme Court bench headed by CJP Nisar resumed hearing of a suo motu case regarding the transfer of Islamabad IGP Jan Muhammad.
Swati’s legal representative Ali Zafar informed the bench that Swati has resigned from his post.
In response, CJP Nisar observed that “Swati has only resigned from the ministry, we are looking at this matter under Article 62 (1)(F) of the Constitution”.
“Is Swati qualified to remain an MNA? His name is still appearing on the ministry’s website,” he inquired.
The CJP inquired from Islamabad IGP Amir Zulfiqar about what has been done till now.
“We registered an FIR against Usman Swati, Najeebullah, Jan Muhammad, Faiz Mehmood and Jahanzaib,” IGP Zulfiqar answered.
“You did not do anything against the main person behind all this? Did you do nothing about him because he is an influential person?” the top judge questioned.
“The IGP was transferred on just one phone call,” he added.
“The JIT has said that Swati did not have a role in the IGP’s transfer but the transfer was done the same day the IGP did not answer his phone,” the court’s adviser Faisal Siddiqui informed the bench.
“If you don’t want to provide justice to people then why are you the IGP? The poor were beaten up and we asked you to provide justice to them but instead, you also got involved. Amir Zulfiqar, my impression of you has been ruined,” CJP Nisar remarked.
“Even the JIT report stated that the police gave special treatment to Swati,” he added.
“We want to set an example that the rich and powerful cannot mistreat the poor. We will issue a notice regarding Article 62 (1)(F) of the Constitution to Swati as police will not register a case against him.”
“The JIT report said that Swati did not declare two assets,” Siddiqui informed the court.
“The JIT has suggested National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) interference in some matters,” the top judge added.
“Is there any forum other than the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) where this matter can be forwarded?” he inquired.
“My client is facing a criminal case, the court can direct the police to conduct a trial,” Swati’s counsel informed the court.
“The JIT report cannot be thrown in the trash basket,” the top judge responded.
“The court can also order FBR to probe his assets and this matter can be forwarded to the ECP through the Senate chairman,” he remarked.
“If it is a mis-declaration case then an inquiry can be conducted regarding his qualification under Article62(1)(f),” Siddiqui added.
The adviser added that Swati’s assets were not in accordance with his declared sources of income.
The apex court then transferred the probe into Swati’s assets to the FBR, FIA and police.
“If any mis-declaration is proven then Supreme Court will see whether Swati is qualified or not,” CJP Nisar remarked.
“We respect the Parliament. Along with collecting testimonies, the Supreme Court has complete authority to conduct trials.”
Hearing of the case was then adjourned.
Swati is accused of playing a role in the transfer of former Islamabad inspector general of police Jan Mohammad — an allegation over which the SC had pondered taking action against him under Article 62 before forming a joint investigation team (JIT).
The former IGP’s transfer took place after Swati’s son registered a case against a family of slum dwellers for allegedly trespassing on his family’s land. Five people, including two women, were arrested for trespassing on the land and beating up Swati’s guards. They were released after a day’s detention as police said a settlement had been reached between the minister and the detained family.
On November 19, the court-formed JIT had held Swati and his employees responsible for the altercation that took place at his farmhouse and allegedly transpired into the police chief’s transfer.
Last month, Swati resigned as federal minister for science and technology to “uphold his moral authority”.
“To uphold my moral authority, I sent my resignation to PM and told him that I cannot work under such circumstances,” he said, adding that now he will defend his case without any portfolio or authority.