by Sohail Khan
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted one week’s time to the federal government to chalk out a strategy for ensuring implementation of its judgment delivered in the Asghar Khan case.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandyal and Justice IjazulAhsen, resumed hearing in a petition filed in 1996 in the apex court by late Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan, accusing the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of doling out money to a group of politicians form the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) to manipulate the 1990 elections and to defeat the PPP.
The court directed the attorney general to ask the government to call a special session of the cabinet to determine what action would be taken against former army chief General ((retd) Mirza Aslam Beg and a former director general (DG) of ISI Lt Gen (retd) Asad Durrani for rigging the 1990 elections against the PPP.
The court had on Monday dismissed the petitions, filed by the aforementioned generals against the implementation of its order passed in 2012 in the Asghar Khan case. The bench had taken a strong exception to non-implementation of the judgment and directed the attorney general as well as Director General Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Bashir Memon to submit a detailed report as to what steps have been have been taken so far by the government for the implementation of the judgment.
On Tuesday, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said it is for the government to decide whether the guilty should be charged under Article 6 of the Constitution or not. Article 6 deals with high treason.
Attorney General Ashter Ausaf submitted before the court that criminal proceedings in the case could start only once the FIA concludes its investigation. The chief justice said investigations “had stopped at one point” and no further action was taken by the government.
On Monday, in pursuance of the court’s order, the DG FIA appeared before the court and gave details about the steps taken by the government after the court delivered its judgment in 2012. He informed the court that the authorities have so far recorded statements of 18 people, while 12, who were supposed to be probed, have since passed away. He further submitted that 190 clips of video evidence have also been acquired. The DG FIA submitted that Rs140 million had been deposited into six benami accounts, and a total of 15 accounts are under investigation.
The attorney general sought two weeks time for convening the cabinet as he informed the court that the agenda for upcoming meetings had been laid out already. The chief justice declined the request and directed him that the federal cabinet meeting should be called in a week for implementation of the court’s verdict.
The chief justice also admonished Salman Akram Raja, counsel for late Air Marshal Asghar Khan, for discussing the case on a private television channel, saying that it could be counted as contempt of court.
In another case, the Supreme Court directed that former special assistant to the prime minister on aviation Shujaat Azeem be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) after viewing a presentation on massive losses suffered by the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by the chief justice heard a suo motu case concerning the proposed privatisation of the national carrier. During the last hearing on April 12, the court had appointed eminent economist Farukh Saleem as amicus curie (friend of court) to assist it and prepare the Terms of Reference (TORs) for unearthing the cause of Rs360 billion losses incurred by the PIA as well as exposing the persons responsible for the losses.
The chief justice had observed that the apex court wanted to know the causes of financial losses and the people who were responsible for it. Dr Farukh Saleem sought around two weeks to do the needful. The court accepted Dr Farukh’s request and asked him to prepare the TORs so that the matter may be examined on technical grounds.
On Tuesday, the court viewed Dr FarukhSaleem’s presentation and issued notices to the authorities for making eight illegal appointments in the airline. All the parties were ordered to submit their replies within next 15 days. The chief justice also directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to look into the matter.
Adviser to the PM on Aviation Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan and former adviser Shujaat Azeem appeared before the court. The chief justice said a new aviation organisation had been established in 2013 and Shujaat Azeem was appointed as adviser on aviation the same year. According to the presentation, the PIA had suffered a total loss of Rs360 billion since 2008.
The reason for losses was due to more spending and less revenue in addition to political influence as well as the packages and policy adopted by the association. Dr Farukh informed the court that the airline paid Rs9 billion as lease for aeroplanes in 2016, adding that a total of 45 planes had been taken on lease during the last 10 years causing a loss of Rs6.67 billion to the airline. The leased aeroplanes were later on grounded. He further submitted that the airline had procured several spare parts for some planes in 1990 which were yet to be used.
The amicus curie further submitted that during 2013 some 287,000 tickets of the national flag carrier had been distributed free causing a loss of Rs5 billion. He further said that in 2016 the medical expenditure of PIA was Rs3 billion.
The court observed that the institution has been destroyed. The chief justice asked the NAB prosecutor to probe whom free tickets had been issued. Pleading his innocence, Shujaat Azeem told the court that he was only adviser and had nothing to do with the PIA.
The chief justice told him that his name was being put on the ECL and it would be investigated as to who was responsible for causing huge losses to the national flag carrier. He also praised Sardar Mehtab and said no corruption was made in his tenure.
Meanwhile, the court sought replies from the PIA’s former MDs and adjourned further hearing for two weeks. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court suspended the Senate membership of former finance minister Ishaq Dar until he appears before it.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar heard the petition filed by the PPP candidate Nawazish Pirzada against the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) decision.
The chief justice asked Dar’s counsel as to why his client had not appear before the court despite the fact that on the last date of hearing he had been asked to ensure his presence in the court. The counsel told the CJ that his client was not well and that he had also submitted his medical certificate to the court.
The chief justice asked the counsel to tell him when Dar will appear before the court and remarked that he will have to appear before the court one day. Justice IjazulAhsen said as per media reports Dar was quite healthy but got ill when the court took up his matter.
The court rejected Dar’s medical certificate and temporarily suspended his membership of the Senate. The court held that the Senate membership of Ishaq Dar will remain suspended until he appears before it and adjourned hearing until after EidulFitr.
In his petition, Nawabzada Nawazish Ali had claimed in that Dar could not contest election as he had been declared an absconder by a court. The LHC, however, permitted Ishaq Dar to contest the election.COURTESY THE NEWS