–All institutions should function in their own sphere, says Justice Manzoor Malik
–‘Judges neither prosecutors nor they can investigate’
LAHORE: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday concluded a suo motu notice against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Afzal Khokhar and his brother Saiful Malook Khokhar, and ordered the authorities concerned to remove their names from the Exit Control List (ECL).
A three-member bench comprising Justice Manzoor Malik, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah issued the orders at the SC’s Lahore Registry.
Former chief justice Saqib Nisar had taken a suo motu notice and issued orders to put the names of the two on the ECL after a complaint was made against them by overseas Pakistanis who had accused the two of illegally occupying their land.
Justice Manzoor Malik in his remarks said that the bench does not have information about the circumstances in which the suo motu action was taken.
“Those blessed with authority by God should use it with caution,” he remarked.
Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that the court can’t go beyond its jurisdiction. “All institutions should function in their own sphere,” he added.
Justice Malik told Amna Imran Khan, the director general of the Lahore Development Authority, to desist from using the court to get the case referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
“Do your own work and let the apex court discharge its duty,” he added.
The court asked if the LDA and Member Board of Revenue Tariq Najeeb, present in the court, had taken any action against the accused before the suo motu notice. To which, the revenue official replied that they had compiled reports that held Khokhar guilty.
“Then take action as per the law,” Justice Malik responded, and added that judges aren’t prosecutors, neither can they investigate.
The apex court also directed the conclusion of cases against the Khokhar brothers in the Anti-Corruption Establishment as per the law.
The LDA director general said that anti-corruption officials were harassing her.
“You have the law, take the legal course, don’t include us,” Justice Shah responded.
On Dec 25, 2018, Afzal Khokhar was arrested outside the Lahore registry. He was granted post-arrest bail by a judicial magistrate at Model Town courts the next day.
On December 28, 2018, the SC had ordered the ACE to complete its investigation against the Khokhar brothers and to register a case against all those Revenue Department officials who were involved in allowing consolidation of the disputed land.
According to the ACE report submitted in court on Jan 6, 2019, the Khokhars had occupied 40 kanals of state land and paid only one of the 10 people from whom they had purchased the land. The report added that Khokhar Palace was then built on joint lands forcibly taken from various people.
“The Khokhar brothers have received bail till your retirement,” Asghar had told Justice Nisar, who was set to retire on Jan 17.
The then chief justice had warned that the court would do away with the Khokhars’ joint lands. “Empty Khokhar palace and pack up your things,” he had thundered. “I will not let such thuggish behaviour take place in Pakistan.”
The former chief justice had suggested that an educational institute be set up in place of Khokhar Palace similar to that being introduced at PM House.
Justice Nisar had observed that the Khokhar brothers appeared to exert an extraordinary amount of control in the area.
“A fly cannot fly there without their approval,” he said. “Such people have destroyed Pakistan.”
The top judge had said that the ACE should register cases and take action as per the law. During the hearing, the lawyer for the Khokhar brothers had said they were innocent and because of land-grabbing culture, all allegations were being placed on them.
“The land-grabbing culture was introduced by the Khokhar brothers,” the top judge had responded.