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TB
Tariq Butt
June 18, 2017

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Three options for SC after JIT report submission

Three options for SC after JIT report submission

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will have at least three options before it to choose one of them on the receipt of the conclusive report of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that it formed to look into certain business dealings of the Sharif family.

One possibility will arise when the apex court will find the final JIT findings or even a partial report at some stage very convincing and unimpeachable. It then may decide to consider the matter of disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as member of the National Assembly (MNA) under articles 62 and 63 (Sadiq and Ameen), legal circles say.

The April 20 order of the Supreme Court in the Panama case says that it is further held that upon receipt of the reports, periodic or final of the JIT, as the case may be, the matter of disqualification of respondent No. 1 (Nawaz Sharif) shall be considered. If found necessary for passing an appropriate order in this behalf, respondent No. 1 or any other person may be summoned and examined.

Thus, it becomes clear that while preferring this option, the court will call the prime minister to proceed against him. A full-fledged hearing of the case will be held. Nawaz Sharif’s lawyers will spring into action to defend him in the court, rejecting the conclusions of the JIT in its report, while the JIT members will be required to speak in favour of their findings.

The second option before the highest judicial forum has also been mentioned in its judgment and may be exercised if the court found that a prima facie case is made on the basis of the JIT report against the prime minister or any other person. Then, a reference will be filed with an accountability court.

According to the judgment, the three-member bench may pass appropriate orders in exercise of its powers under Articles 184(3), 187(2) and 190 of the Constitution including an order for filing a reference against respondent No. 1 and any other person having nexus with the crime if justified on the basis of the material thus brought on the record before it. Before that, the order said the JIT shall submit its periodical reports every two weeks before the special bench. The JIT shall complete the investigation and submit its final report before this bench within a period of sixty days from the date of its constitution.

Filing of reference will open another long-drawn battle as the case will be first decided by the accountability court and will later go to the superior courts in appeal. It is anybody’s guess for how long this litigation will take. In any case, this process doesn’t end any soon.

A couple of pertinent questions will also crop up if the Supreme Court ordered filing of a reference in the accountability court. Who will serve as the prosecution – the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) or some other organization to be designated by the court? Will the court appoint an independent counsel to fight against those facing the reference or leave this job to the NAB to do through its prosecutors?

The third option before the court on receiving the final JIT report will be to dismiss the case straightaway after concluding that the team has not brought on record any substantial evidence against the prime minister or any other member of the Sharif family.

The JIT findings, final or periodic, will be just a report like the one produced by any similar probe committee or a police body, and will not be a decision, which the court is bound to adopt and pronounce.

Every JIT report will be closely examined and dissected as the findings of any investigation committee are subjected to intense scrutiny in courts of law every day. It will be a mere story of the investigation done by it.

As it happens on daily basis, such reports are not necessarily adopted or accepted by the courts in their original forms. Rather, in most cases they are rejected by the judicial forums for not being credible, coming up to impeccable legal standards or beyond doubt.

Additionally, like findings of all JITs or any investigative bodies, the report of the instant committee led by senior Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) official Wajid Zia will also be aggressively contested by the lawyers of the affected party – the Sharif family - if it thought to be damaging and implicating it in any offence.

Meanwhile, the strong rejoinders of certain government departments to serious allegations and claims made by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in its latest report have served as the counter-charge sheet against these detectives. All of them have categorically rebutted all the charges leveled by the JIT against them.

The JIT had alleged in its report filed with the Supreme Court that some actions of the Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Prime Minister’s House and Intelligence Bureau (IB) were meant to impede its investigation.

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