Painstaking efforts made to find properties, SC judge observes

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A Supreme Court judge observed on Wednesday that a mention of three assets in the reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, instead of only one in the original complaint, suggested some surveillance had been done to look for additional properties.

“Abdul Waheed Dogar’s complaint has one property, but the reference initiated later has mentioned three offshore properties which were owned by the family members,” observed Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, adding this showed that surveillance was made for the properties.

The observation came during the hearing of a set of challenges against the filing of the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa by a 10-judge full court.

Muneer Malik, counsel for Justice Isa, had contended before the court that the complaint cannot be supplemented by any other authority or even by the President, on whose opinion the reference was filed, though the complainant may add any evidence or information to his complaint.

When Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel asked about the educational qualification of the complainant, Muneer Malik replied that to him he was just a “two bit proxy.”

The documentary evidence in the original complaint by Dogar was not forthcoming even now, the counsel argued, adding this “led us to presume that it does not exist”.

Had the original complaint filed by Mr Dogar been sent to the President or the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), both might have thrown it out and consigned it to the dustbin if not supported by evidence, the counsel said.

But the complaint was directly sent to Barrister Mirza Shahzad Akbar, who heads the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU), and finally landed at the President’s desk with a draft of the reference, the counsel argued.

“Most of us would throw it into the dustbin, but the ARU chief considered it serious enough to be taken to the law minister for further discussion,” the Muneer Malik said.

The complaint received so much importance because somehow the law minister and the ARU chairman allegedly knew about the offshore properties in advance, but wanted to create a paper trail.

The ARU chairman met Mr Dogar, who allegedly gave an extracted copy of the search property of one property and the FBR expert found more properties through their wider search.

At this Justice Miankhel asked the counsel about the annexure, but the latter replied that these were not even included in the reference material.

When Ziaul Mustafa of the FBR, who discovered three properties, found the properties through his wider search, he had no idea about the Spanish name of the wife of Justice Isa. The documents were collected on April 23 within one week of the task given by the ARU chairman even without the name.

Justice Munib Akhtar observed it was conceivable that the wife’s name was given to the expert from the complaint of Dogar. But the counsel wondered where it has been written. They did not even know the name of the son of Justice Isa.

“You want to say that they already had the information before the filing of complaint and Dogar was introduced merely to justify the collection of the material,” commented Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial, who heads the full court, asked the counsel to explain why mention was made in arguments of “surveillance by intelligence agencies” even though there was no evidence or even allegations of surveillance by intelligence agencies. “Since the information and certain records were accessed in UK, why should they be mentioned in the arguments.” The counsel, however, replied his case was that the reference was initiated against Justice Isa only because of Feb 4 TLP sit-in.

Referring to a query about laws in different countries on covert surveillance, the counsel cited a 2102 judgment in which certain laws of UK, USA, New Zealand, Canada and Norway were available to ensure transparency.

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