ISLAMABAD: The Panama leaks probe seems to be taking a hard turn on government as the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Anwar Zaheer Jamali has rejected the government's request to form what he calls “toothless” judicial commission on the issue.
In response to the government's request, a letter issued by the SC registrar says:
“The formation of a commission under the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act 1956 (Act VI of 1956), looking to its limited scope will result in the constitution of a toothless commission, which will serve no useful purpose.”
The letter observes that the terms of reference (ToR) of the proposed commission are so “wide and open” that “it may take years” for the commission to conclude proceedings.
The letter also says that “before forming an opinion as to the formation of the inquiry commission, it is necessary to have the list of all individuals, families, groups, companies... along with some relevant particulars, against whom purported inquiry proceedings are to be held...”
The Supreme Court has also asked the government to “reconsider and resolve the issue of formation of the commission under proper legislation” after which it will decide on the modalities of the inquiry commission.
The government had last month sent a letter to the Supreme Court registrar, requesting that the chief justice constitute a high-level judicial commission to investigate the veracity of the allegations against the premier and his family.
Opposition parties want a three-member judicial commission headed by the CJP set up through an act of parliament, which should first hold an inquiry against the PM and his family members. The commission will be given three months, extendable to four, to complete the task.
Only then, according to the opposition-drafted ToRs, can it start proceedings against other Pakistanis named in the Panama Papers and will have a year to complete this task.
Earlier, the government rejected the draft of the ToRs, indicating it was willing to sit with the opposition to come up with terms of reference that were focused on eliminating corruption and did not target the prime minister personally.