Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial has stated that under Article 248 of the Constitution of Pakistan, members of the cabinet are granted no ‘immunity’ which is why criminal proceedings against them should not be halted.
He issued these remarks during the hearing of a suo motu notice he took over the what he called ‘interference’ in the accountability processes and the undermining of the criminal justice system by ‘persons in authority’.
The five-member bench requested that the DG FIA and the Director Law Usman Gondal be presented before the court at the next hearing, regarding the transfer of a prosecutor in the money laundering case against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
The bench was not satisfied over the removal and transfer of prosecutor Sikander Zulqarnain, who was the prosecuting officer on the Sharif family case prior to his transfer.
Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, after perusing the DG FIA’s report on the transfer of Zulqarnain, said that the facts had been twisted to justify the removal of the prosecuting officer.
CJ Banidal said that it appears that Zulqarnain’s removal was a deliberate attempt to halt the case, and while the court doesn’t wish to speed up the proceedings, it does not want to see them halted due to tampering either.
The bench also expressed concern over the removal of several accused names from the Exist Control List (ECL), questioning why this was happening.
According to Section II of the ECL Rules 2010,, corruption accused, tax defaulters, terrorism suspects and loan defaulters could not fly out of the country, Justice Bandial added.
He then asked the Attorney General if these clauses were amended by the federal government, at which the AG said he would present the minutes of the cabinet meeting where this was discussed as well.