ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday formed a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe a case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif pertaining to the transfer of Pakpattan shrine land in violation of a court order when he was the chief minister of Punjab.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, heard the suo motu case regarding transfer of 14,000 kanals of Pakpattan shrine land to Dewan Ghulam Qutab in 1985.
The former premier is accused of ordering the withdrawal of a notification of Dec 17, 1969, and allegedly allotting Auqaf land to Qutab in violation of a high court order when he was the provincial chief executive in 1986.
As the hearing resumed earlier in the day, the apex court established a three-member JIT to probe the allegations against the former PM. The JIT will be headed by National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) chief Khalid Dad Lak, with one member of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) each.
In the last hearing, Nawaz had expressed his reservations over being probed by a JIT but his counsel on Thursday told the CJP that his client “agreed for the formation of a JIT”. At this, the chief justice remarked that Nawaz Sharif “is taking the risk of JIT”.
He then constituted the JIT and summoned its head in the next hearing, while ordering the probe’s terms of reference (ToR) to be finalised within a week.
During the last hearing on December 4, the CJP had offered Nawaz Sharif to propose which institution should investigate the charges against him.
“What is your opinion of your written stance on the matter?” the judge had asked him, to which the former PM had replied: “This is a 32-year-old incident. I don’t remember any such order being passed.”
“Let’s form a joint investigation team (JIT),” the chief justice suggested. “Mian sahab is wary of joint investigation teams,” he added.
“My experience with JITs has not been good,” Nawaz Sharif responded. “Make something other than a JIT.”
“We do have to probe the matter,” the chief justice reminded the ousted premier. “The reputation of the former two-time chief minister and three-time prime minister must be cleared.”
“Let’s make you the judge then,” Justice Nisar commented. “You can look into it and tell us within a week which institution should be called upon to investigate the matter.”
SC TAKES UP REVIEW PETITION:
The SC took up a review petition against the land dispute which had been decided by the apex court back in 2015.
Justice Nisar, during his visit to the Baba Farid shrine earlier this year, had promised justice in the case when dozens of the affected people raised slogans to get his attention towards their plight.
The demo at Darbar Chowk in Pakpattan was organised by the Citizen’s Rights and Welfare Organization which claims working for 20,000 households in public interest and seeks ownership rights of the land they purchased from the Dewans, the caretakers of the shrine, during the last 70 years.
The Dewans claim that they had been declared caretakers of 14,500 kanal land of the the Baba Farid shrine but the Auqaf department says the shrine caretakers had no right to sell the land as it was not their jurisdiction to sell ownership rights of the land associated with the shrine since centuries.
The Dewans filed a review petition with the Supreme Court against the Auqaf Department for defense of their right to sell the land.