The Supreme Court told the government on Friday to bring back the FIA officials who were originally investigating the Hajj scam, failing which the court will pass an order for cancelling the notifications for their transfers.
A four-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary was seemingly provoked by the transfers of key officials spearheading the investigations of irregularities committed in arrangements for Hajj last year. “How come the officials were transferred when the issue is before the court?” the chief justice remarked. He questioned why investigation officers of corruption cases pursued by the court were transferred. “A judicial order cannot be overruled by an executive order,” observed Justice Raja Fayyaz. “It is a violation of the constitution.”
The chief justice rebuked Director General (DG) Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Malik Iqbal over the transfers of investigation officers while the cases are pending before the court. Secretary Establishment Chaudhary Abdul Rauf informed the bench that the government had appointed Hussain Asghar as the Inspector General of Police Gilgit-Baltistan. Additional DG Zafar Qureshi, investigation officer of National Insurance Company scam was transferred after DG FIA wrote to the establishment that he had completed his assignment. Iqbal requested the court to give him time to seek directions from the Prime Minister on the officers’ postings. The Establishment Division had notified the transfers.
The court however refused his request. “How dare you transfer the officers? Tell the prime minister that you will be reappointing them as investigation officers on the Supreme Court’s order,” the chief justice observed. “Irrespective of whether you award them promotions, don’t dare to disengage them from the investigation.” Attorney-General Maulvi Anwarul Haq submitted that Javed Bukhari who was supervising the Hajj scam has also been promoted. Secretary Establishment Abdul Rauf said that Bukhari requested a transfer because the court was not satisfied with his performance. “They should be sent home if they are not interested in (doing their) jobs. Why is the director-general reluctant to take action against them?” the chief justice remarked. Justice Raja Fayyaz observed that investigation officer Chaudhary Manzoor is not familiar with the case unlike previous officials who were fully onboard.
Counsel for Hamid Saeed Kazmi requested the bench to initiate proceedings against the ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Umer Khan Alisherazi, and former minister Azam Khan Swati for not being able to substantiate allegations levelled against his client. Justice Javed Iqbal observed that it was up to the trial court. The court adjourned the hearing till May 6.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2011.