Pak Supreme Court issues orders after receipt of Panamagate probe report

A three-judge bench of Pakistan’s Supreme Court (SC) on Monday received a report submitted by the joint investigation team (JIT) probing allegations of money laundering against the Sharif family, and ordered the opening of a criminal case against Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Chairman Zafar Hijazi who was earlier suspected of record tampering by the Federal Investigation Agency.

The court also asked for the transcripts of all speeches made in the last 60 days by PML-N’s Talal Chaudhry, Railways Minister Saad Rafique, and the PM’s Special Assistant on Political Affairs Asif Kirmani, presumably to examine them for contemptuous content.

The bench further ordered that the name and institution of the individual responsible for leaking a photo of Hussain Nawaz sitting before the JIT should be made public. The matter does not fall within the SC’s jurisdiction, so the government may form a commission to probe the matter, the court said.

The bench also took a strict stand against a local newspaper for publishing a story it said contradicted actual JIT proceedings over the past 60 days.

The SC ordered the filing of a contempt of court notice against the printer, publisher and reporter of The News for a story entitled “Panama JIT ‘doesn’t find PM guilty,’ but his sons”, which appeared in on Monday, July 10.

The Panamagate case has been adjourned for a week, with the next hearing scheduled for July 17.

In a related note, the country’s apex court on Monday indicted PML-N Senator Nehal Hashmi for contempt of court over threatening members of the top court and members of the Panamagate Joint Investigation Team and their families.

According to the charge-sheet, Hashmi’s act tends to “scandalize the court and bring the authority of the court into hatred, ridicule and disrespect”.

Hashmi was charged with contempt of court under Article 204(2) of the Constitution of Pakistan, read with Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003.

The senator drew the apex court’s ire after he delivered a fiery speech at a private function and threatened to make miserable the lives of the people who ‘have held the Sharif family accountable’.

The Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice of the speech while the ruling PML-N had suspended his party membership and asked him to resign from the Senate.

The Senator offered an “unqualified and unconditional apology” on Friday for his speech against the judiciary and the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the offshore assets of the ruling family.

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