Supreme Court announces reserved judgment in Suo Motu Case 18 of 2010 on 08.08.2011

Supreme Court announces reserved judgment in Suo Motu Case 18 of 2010 on 08.08.2011

Islamabad: Supreme Court of Pakistan has announced the reserved judgment in Suo Motu Case No. 18 of 2010 (Action regarding violation of Public Procurement Rules, 2004 in procurement loss of billions of rupees of exchequer caused by National Insurance Company Ltd) today i.e. 08.08.2011. The case was heard by a three member Bench headed by Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising other two members namely Hon’ble Mr. Justice Tariq Parvez and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Amir Hani Muslim. The Hon’ble bench had heard the case regarding the suspension of Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi, Additional Director, F.I.A and reserved the judgment on 25.07.2011 which has been announced today. The 32- paged judgment has been authored by Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

2. This Suo Moto case was initiated on a letter dated 06.05.2010, addressed to Mr. Ayaz Khan Niazi, Chairman, National Insurance Company Limited (NICL), by Transparency International Pakistan, copy of which was also forwarded to Registrar of this Court. The summarized allegations levelled in the letter are as follows:-

“1. Procurement of 803 kanal – 19 Marla Plot in Lahore reportedly belonging to Ex-MNA Mr. Habibullah Warraich, which had market value of Rs.300,000/- per Kanal, whereas NICL was buying it at Rs.2,000,000/- per Kanal.

27000 sft. Office space in Dubai in Liberty tower was purchased in July 2009 @ UAE Dirham 2,700 per sft., against the market price of AED 1,200 per sft. allegedly, causing loss to exchequer of Rs.900 million.
10 Acre plot purchased in Korangi Deh Phihai, in August 2009 @ Rs.90,000,000/- per acre, against maximum market price of Rs.20,000,000/- per acre, causing loss Rs.70,000,000/- per acre.

Award of Contracts of painting works and furniture to M/s Casa Bella Lahore, Karachi for Rs.26.987 million and at Islamabad for Rs.9.31 million, who was not a license holder of Pakistan engineering Council. The tender for Karachi was for 6 floors but the Contractor has been asked to paint only 4 floors.
Land was purchased in Lahore in the year 2009 from Mr. Mohsin Warraich for Rs.1.5 billion, whose market value was Rs.30 million causing loss to Exchequer Rs.1.2 billion.”

3. Initially, vide letter dated 12.02.2010, report was called from Chief Secretary Punjab, who confirmed that NICL intended to purchase a piece of land for developing a housing colony at Lahore at exorbitant price to benefit a few persons, who were behind the deal. Report was also called from Secretary Board of Revenue, Punjab, who narrated the same answer as was given by the Chief Secretary, Punjab. Then the matter was referred to Chairman NAB for conducting discreet inquiry and report. In the light of the reports submitted by the NAB authorities, the matter was fixed before the Court. The Secretary Commerce was directed to lodge criminal complaint/report with F.I.A., in respect of above transactions against all concerned, as a result whereof FIRs No.24 and 29/2010 were registered with FIA Circle, Lahore. However, this Court feeling dissatisfied with the above proceedings directed the FIA to accelerate the proceedings; cause arrest of the accused, particularly the influential persons; and to register cases regarding other incidents.

4. On 09.12.2010 Mr. Zafar Ahmed Qureshi, the then Director, FIA submitted a report stating therein that one Habibullah Warraich was arrested and Rs.1.4 billion were recovered from him, whereas, steps were being taken to cause arrest of Mohsin Habibullah Warraich. In the meanwhile influential persons tried to interfere in the investigation to get the favourable results.

5. It is to be noted that when under the supervision of Mr. Zafar Ahmed Qureshi the investigation was likely to make effective progress, he was abruptly transferred to National Police Foundation as Managing Director, on the pretext that after his promotion in Grade 21 he could not continue as a Director in FIA. An exception on his transfer was taken by this Court and competent authorities were compelled to allow him to continue investigation of the case. Thus, vide notification dated 24.01.2011, issued by the Government of Pakistan, Mr. Zafar Ahmed Qureshi, was appointed as Additional Director General, FIA in addition to his other assignment to supervise investigation of NICL case at Lahore.

6. Mr. Zafar Ahmed Qureshi, Addl. D.G. submitted report on 17.2.2011, according to which, FIA had collected incriminating evidence against Mohsin Warraich, Habibullah Warraich, Moonis Elahi and Raja Muhammad Ali in accordance with law. He recorded his statement in open Court that in case of his unnatural death, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, Chaudhry Wajahat Elahi, Moonis Elahi, Major Habibullah Warraich and Mohsin Habib Warraich, would be responsible for the same. In this regard directions were issued to the Attorney General for Pakistan to take all necessary steps to ensure that Mr. Zafar Ahmed Qureshi would be allowed to conduct the investigation of the cases freely without facing any threat or consequences from anyone.

On 21.3.2011, Mr. Zafar Ahmed Qureshi, Addl. D.G. FIA submitted report mentioning therein that in case FIR No.24/2010, an amount of Rs.1,686,300,000/- and in case FIR No.29/2010 an amount of Rs.80,000,000/- had been recovered and in FIRs No. 46/2010 and 05/2011, accused including Ch. Moonis Elahi had been arrested and interim Challan had been forwarded to the court of competent jurisdiction. A Civil Miscellaneous Application No.874/2011 was filed on behalf of Ch. Shujaat Hussain and others containing the prayer for transfer of investigation from Mr. Zafar Ahmed Qureshi to some other officer.

7. On 14.4.2011 Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi, Addl. Director General had submitted that in addition to the above amount, in FIR No.29 of 2010, post-dated cheques amounting to Rs.42 Million were deposited by one Muhammad Akram Warraich (uncle of Mohsin Habib Warraich) before the learned Special Judge (Central) Lahore. He also informed the Court that as per version of Moazzam Jah, Director FIA, Karachi, Amin Qasim Dada used to sit with DG, FIA in his camp office, therefore, he could not cause his arrest. This statement was confirmed by Mr. Moazzam Jah. On making such statement and his decision to proceed against influential persons noted above, they started creating trouble for him to investigate the case smoothly.

8. During investigation of the cases, Mr. Zafar Ahmed Qureshi approached to Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), UK, through Mirza Sultan M. Saleem, the then Additional Director NCB/Interpol FIA Headquarters, and succeeded in obtaining information from SOCA about the bank account of Moonis Elahi with EFG Private Bank Ltd., having a balance of ₤ 1,138,792.53, in the name of a company owned by him and another account in Barclays Bank in the name of Beenish Khan (wife of Mohsin Habib Warraich) having a balance of ₤ 102,307.63 (transferred from the account in EFG Private Bank Ltd.). The then D.G. FIA, Waseem Ahmed kept the said information pending with him for 21 days and this fact was verified by Mirza Sultan M. Saleem, in his statement recorded before the investigation team. Later on he was transferred from FIA.

9. Malik Muhammad Iqbal was posted in place of Waseem Ahmad, DG FIA. He, instead of facilitating Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi in accomplishing the task assigned to him by this Court, to probe into corruption cases, wrote a letter dated 15.4.2011 to the Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Government of Pakistan, stating therein that the interim challans in NICL cases have been submitted in the Court of competent jurisdiction on 11-04-2011 and a report thereof has already been submitted in the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan on 14-04-2011 by the said officer.

In view of the said letter the Establishment Division vide notification 18.04.2011, withdrew the charge of Mr. Zafar Ahmed Qureshi as Additional Director General, Federal Investigation. On 8.6.2011, Mr. Abdul Rauf Chaudhry, Secretary Establishment appeared and stated the notification dated 18.4.2011 was issued without any summary on the verbal orders of the competent authority on 18.4.2011 at about 10/11 pm., confirmation of which was sought by him on 20.4.2011 from the Prime Minister’s Secretariat’s (Public).

10. The Court vide order dated 1.7.2011 suspended the operation of notification dated 18.4.2011, whereby services of Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi were withdrawn as Additional Director General, FIA. The incumbent D.G. FIA was directed to extend all necessary assistance to him. After passing of the order dated 1.7.2011, on the same day the members of the investigation team working under the supervision of Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi were transferred to different places by the incumbent D.G, FIA. On the next day i.e. 2.7.2011 Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi was served with a notice; later on, he was suspended and proceedings were initiated against him vide order 4.7.2011.

11. On 7.7.2011 copy of the explanation, reply and the suspension order dated 4.7.2011 were produced in Court. At that stage learned Attorney General was confronted with the news items published in all the leading newspapers wherein it was mentioned that on account of some political intervention action against Zafar Ahmad Qureshi had been initiated and he had been placed under suspension, learned Attorney General stated that till he took instructions, departmental proceedings against Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi would not be undertaken. D.G. FIA was directed to reverse the transfer orders of the officers/members of the investigation team of Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi immediately and post them at the places where they were directly performing their duties pending decision of the matter.

Despite of restraining order dated 7.7.2011 fresh proceedings were initiated against Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi on the basis of some other notice. As such vide order dated 13.7.2011 all notices and or communications issued to Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi were suspended and the Secretary Interior or any other authority competent in that behalf was restrained from proceeding departmentally against him without prior permission of the Court.

12. In the reserved order dated 25.07.2011, announced today, the court observed that the facts, inter alia, if proved in Court of law, can entail serious consequences. As such it was felt necessary for vested interest to block re-association of Zafar Ahmad Qureshi, with the cases in pursuance of order of this Court dated 1.7.2011, therefore, allegedly efforts continued at different levels. This fact had also received sufficient corroboration from the reports published in print media on 5.7.2011 and 6.7.2011, wherein it has been reported that the suspension of Mr. Zafar Ahmed Qureshi from service was a result of political intervention. From perusal of said reports, it stood prima facie established that Mr. Zafar Ahmed Qureshi, after passing of order dated 1.7.2011 by this Court allegedly was given four options by the Federal Interior Minister, reference of which had been made in the news reports. In addition to it, the news items also indicated that the political personalities joined their heads together for the purpose of flouting the order of this Court. Prima facie, the order of suspension of Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi, based on vague assertions of addressing to media and thereby committing misconduct, was tantamount to make the order of this Court dated 1.7.2011 suspending the order of his transfer, ineffective.

In this behalf pictures of political persons having a meeting, had also been published. It is to be noted that the news published in the above noted newspapers had not been rebutted except in one of the news papers i.e. The News International, where the Ministry of Interior had contradicted the stand taken by the newspaper but the newspaper stood by its story. The situation became bad to worse when immediately after happening of the above said incidents, a campaign was launched against the judiciary by a specific group for the purpose of undermining the authority of the Court.

The Secretary Information was directed to personally look into the matter and take necessary steps to ensure that the dignity of the judiciary is not undermined. Initially he made an attempt to offer explanation but he was told in clear words that he had to submit report fixing the responsibility upon the specific group which had launched campaign against judiciary on the electronic media. On 26.7.2011 Acting Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting submitted his report stating that he had telephonic conversation and had also wrote letters to the heads of the TV Channels and endorsed the copy of the same to the Chairman, Pakistan Broadcasters Association to assist M/o Information in that matter and to provide the requisite detail of the perpetrators of the advertisement in question. He also assured that the M/o Information and Broadcasting is ready to sit with the private TV channels to work out a mechanism to prevent such unfortunate incidents in future.

13. In view of the above facts and circumstances, the Court held as under:-

The order dated 4.7.2011 and or any other order, suspending Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi, Additional D.G. FIA from service have been passed to render the judgment/order dated 1.7.2011 ineffective and non-operative. Thus, order dated 4.7.2011 suspending Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi or any other order, is quashed/set aside. He shall be deemed to have been on duty as Additional D.G. FIA pursuant to the order of this Court dated 1.7.2011.

Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi, Addl. D.G. is hereby directed to carry out investigation of the cases registered vide FIRs No.24, 29 and 46/2010 and 05/2011 etc., forthwith. He shall complete investigation of the cases expeditiously.

The D.G. FIA, Additional D.G. FIA, Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi and other government authorities shall take steps to ensure that public money sent abroad noted hereinabove, shall be brought back. The D.G. FIA and others shall not create hindrance in the investigation being conducted by Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi, Addl. D.G, under the direction of this Court.

In pursuance of order dated 13.7.2011 passed by this Court, no action shall be taken against Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi without prior approval of this Court. The investigation team, which had already been assisting him, would join him as team mates, unless he wants otherwise.
On having made the order dated 1.7.2011 ineffective, prima facie interference has been made in the judicial functioning of this Court as a result whereof not only the authority of the Court has been eroded but at the same time the investigation of the NICL cases have been badly hampered, resultantly investigation has come to stand still, no progress has been made and looted money, which has been taken outside the country is not likely to come back unless the investigation of the case is conducted seriously and the Government provides support to the prosecution instead of withdrawing its support.
Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi, Addl. D.G. shall be submitting fortnightly report about the progress of the investigation duly countersigned by the D.G. FIA to Mr. Justice Amir Hani Muslim for perusal in Chambers.

Prima facie suspension order dated 4.7.2011 of Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi is the result of political intervention in the affairs of this Court and it requires to be determined accordingly in view of facts and circumstances narrated above, which also includes pressurizing Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi by the high-ups to dissociate him from the proceedings of the cases, as a follow up political expediency, which has been widely reported by the print media, referred to hereinabove, coupled with propaganda on electronic media against judiciary by issuing advertisements. The private T.V. Channels might have declined to indulge in such campaign but the T.V. channels being operated commercially prima facie cannot be blamed, however, the persons or a specific group who have provided finances for this purpose are required to be dealt with in accordance with law.

As it has been held above that prima facie Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi, Addl. D.G. was suspended due to political intervention followed by propaganda against judiciary on electronic media to undermine its authority, therefore, to ascertain these and ancillary questions Mr. Justice Ghulam Rabbani, Hon’ble Judge of this Court is appointed to conduct enquiry and submit report on the basis of evidence, which he will be empowered to collect to determine:

Whether before suspending Mr. Zafar Ahmad Qureshi, pressure was exerted upon him by the Interior Minister etc. as it has been reported in the newspapers due to political expediency, if so, to what consequences?

Responsibility shall be fixed individually or collectively against the persons responsible for making investment to run the campaign against the judiciary on the electronic media as it has been noted hereinabove. On having determined the particulars of the persons responsible for launching the propaganda campaign against the judiciary what action against him and or them is called for, to maintain the dignity and honour of the Courts.

We would expect from him to complete the inquiry expeditiously in the interest of justice.

Mr. Sajid Mehmood Qazi, Addl. Registrar of this Court is deputed to facilitate Hon.ble Mr. Justice Ghulam Rabbani during inquiry. Similarly the Federal Secretaries including Secretary Interior, Secretary Establishment, and Secretary Information shall provide assistance, whatsoever is required by him to complete the report.

For more information, contact:
Shahid Hussain Kamboyo
Public Relations Officer
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Tel: +9251 920 4184
Fax: +9251 920 1001
Email: pro_scp@yahoo.com

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