ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Saqib Nisar Tuesday asked former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to suggest how to probe the case against him concerning allotment of Auqaf land attached to the shrine of Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Masud Ganj Shakar in Pakpattan.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif appeared before the apex court in connection to the case dating back to 1985, which involves illegal allotment of Auqaf Department’s land in Pakpattan to an individual, Dewan Ghulam Qutab, in violation of a Lahore High Court order. Nawaz was the then-chief minister of Punjab province when the land in question was transferred.
The suo motu case was heard by a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Nisar and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Faisal Arab. The bench had summoned the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo to appear before the court to explain his position in the case.
During the hearing, Nawaz said the matter was 32 years old and it was not in his knowledge.
The chief justice said the individuals claiming ownership of the land filed the case and the LHC ruled that the land belonged to Auqaf Department.
It gives the perception that the notification of its allotment was issued with your consent, he added.
At this, Nawaz replied there was no such notification on record.
Justice Nisar expressed his astonishment over the matter telling Nawaz that his stance was that he had no knowledge of the matter and that he had been a very cautious chief minister.
The chief justice suggested forming a joint investigation team (JIT), which would find out the facts after investigating the matter.
Nawaz responded saying there was no harm in investigation, but some other body should probe the matter not a JIT.
He remarked that his experience with JITs had not particularly been pleasant, triggering a laughter in the courtroom.
Nawaz told the bench that there was no order on record that he had signed in connection with the allegations.
He said something appeared to have gone wrong at the lower levels of [the bureaucracy], adding that perhaps the secretary de-notified the 1971 notification.
At this, Justice Nisar said Auqaf secretary did not have such powers, observing that the case called for an investigation.
“It’s no small matter, it involves 14,000 kanal land,” the top judge remarked, as he asked the former prime minister to suggest how he wanted the matter to be probed.
Asking Nawaz whether he wanted the National Accountability Bureau, the Federal Investigation Agency or a JIT to investigate the case, the chief justice gave the former premier one week to decide which institution should conduct the probe.
Justice Nisar further remarked that he wanted the two-time chief minister and three-time prime minister’s name cleared. Nawaz told the chief justice that he agreed with what he was saying.
The chief justice said when the court had decided, then he did not have the power to denotify it being the chief minister of the province.
“If you did not denotify then who did it? This should be probed” he asked.
To this, Nawaz said with regard to withdrawal of the notification, even the then-principal secretary Javed Bukhari did nothing.
The court ordered the former premier to inform in written with regard to the procedure of investigation into the matter.
The hearing was then adjourned for a week.