سپریم کورٹ نے مسعود کے انکشافات پر نئی جے آئی ٹی بنا دی

LAHORE: The Supreme Court of Pakistan is hearing the Zainab rape and murder suo motu case at its Lahore Registry today. Dr Shahid Masood, Zainab’s father, IG Punjab and other have reached the court. The hearing is going on.

Zainab was found dead in a trash heap on January 9, five days after she was kidnapped from her aun’t house. The autopsy report revealed that Zainab had been raped and murdered. Later, a suspect identified as Imran, said to be a serial killer involved in several other similar cases in Kasur, was caught.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar is heading the three-judge bench hearing the case. He thanked the media persons who appeared for the hearing. The other two members of the bench are Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Manzoor Malik.

The government’s counsel maintained that no proof was found to substantiate Dr Shahid Masood’s claims.

Another JIT formed

The Supreme Court set up another JIT headed by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director-General Bashir Memon to probe into the allegations leveled by Dr Shahid Masood, replacing the previous JIT.

“These days, the law is discussed more on TV than in courts,” remarked the CJP.

No judicial commission will be formed by the PM or government in the future, said the court. “The judicial commission formed to look into journalist Saleem Shahzad’s case has gone down the drain,” said Justice Nisar. “There should be investigations instead of formation of judicial commissions. No PM or CM should now ask me to form judicial commissions.”

Dr Masood was told that he will be awarded a certificate for honesty if his claims turn out to be true. However, the court warned him of unforeseen consequences in case his allegations are proven false.

No power will be able to hinder the court when we decide to take notice, warned the CJP.

CJP to Masood: Provide evidence

shahid masood profile photo

Meanwhile, a clip of Dr Shahid Masood’s media talk outside the Supreme Court was played during the hearing. Justice Nisar told Dr Masood that he needs to prove his allegations. He further warned him that his claims can affect the proceedings of the case. “You had claimed that the suspect had 37 bank accounts,” said the CJP. “You need to provide evidence.”

During the hearing, Dr Shahid Masood argued that Imran was not the only suspect and that a cover is being provided to the gang. According to him, the DNA testing and post-mortem were not done correctly. “Did doctors carry out the post-mortem investigations?” asked Dr Masood.

The court cautioned him against taking investigations into his own hands. “These are matters pertaining to the investigation,” said the CJP. “Your claims are based on assumptions.” He was directed to refrain from saying things that could negatively impact the investigations. You need to stick to your point and not deviate into unnecessary discussion, the court told Dr Masood. “You should stick to your allegations,” the CJP told him. “The accounts you mentioned do not exist. You have failed to prove your allegations so far.”

Dr Masood told the court that he could leave the court if the judges wanted, to which the CJP said that now he won’t let him leave. Dr Masood was warned by the court that his name can be added to the ECL. The CJP told him that he works for the greater good of the people

“If your report is proven true, you will be given a certificate. If it’s proven false, you have no idea what will happen next,” the CJP told Dr Masood.

Meanwhile, the judges pondered over what could be the punishments if the reports are proven to be untrue: the CJP said that cases of terrorism and contempt of court could be initiated. They asked senior journalists to suggest punishments for fake news. Senior columnist IA Rahman said that reports must be aired after verification. Anchorperson Kamran Khan said such journalism puts us to shame at times, adding that anything is aired without any consideration for responsibility these days. There should be punishment for fake news, said Mujeebur Rehman Shami. It’s surprising that one gives a report first and then demands JIT, remarked Arif Nizami.

Media talks of Zainab’s father banned

Zainab father Talking To Media

The CJP said that investigation is the job of the JIT and that the SC has nothing to do with the case now. He forbade Amin Ansari and his counsel from holding any press conferences. According to Justice Nisar, they should share whatever they know with the JIT now instead of holding press conferences. He added that the court is banning them from holding media talks outside the court as well.

The CJP remarked that Zainab’s father never went to the JIT and instructed him to cooperate with the police.

Justice Nisar asked the JIT when they would submit the challans before the court, to which the JIT members said it needs 90 days. The CJP replied that as many days cannot be granted.

Justice Ijazul Hasan added that investigations should be not be influenced by anyone’s pressure.

Media owners, journalists summoned

The CJP had summoned the heads of several news organisations as well as senior journalists since it will take up an anchorperson’s allegations, refuted by the government, that the suspect had several bank accounts and was part of an international paedophilia ring.

In a handout, the court asked 12 executives and anchors of various media houses to appear in person at 10am at its Lahore Registry. According to the Supreme Court’s press release, these executive and anchors are: Hameed Haroon, the chief executive officer of Dawn; Mir Shakeelur Rehman, the chief editor and publisher of The News and Jang; Rameeza Majid Nizami, the head of the Nawai Waqt and The Nation Group; Fahd Husain, the news director of Express TV; IA Rehman, a senior columnist and human rights activist; Mujeebur Rehman Shami, a senior journalist and editor; Amir Mehmood, the proprietor of Dunya Media Group and chairman of the Pakistan Broadcasters Association; Sarmad Ali, the president of All Pakistan Newspapers Society; Zia Shahid of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors; and anchorpersons Kamran Khan, Kashif Abbasi and Hamid Mir.

Change of venue and date

The hearing of the case had earlier been fixed for Monday at the court’s principal seat in Islamabad. However, the venue was later changed to Lahore and the date of the hearing to Sunday. The changes were communicated to the relevant authorities.

Dr Shahid Masood, the anchorperson who made the claims earlier this week, IG Punjab and Zainab’s father, Haji Amin Ansari, along with the team investigating the incident have reached the court.

Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Saeed, Punjab Advocate General Shakeelur Rehman, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali, IG Jails and head of the Punjab Forensic Science Agency have also been summoned today.

The hearing is expected to begin shortly.

The curious case of the bank accounts

The bank accounts that, according to Masood, belonged to the accused in the Zainab rape and murder case, do not exist, said the State Bank of Pakistan on Friday.

The central bank said it found no such bank accounts that were maintained by Imran Ali, the accused in Zainab murder case. The bank handed the record to Federal Investigation Agency that appointed an officer of banking circle to probe the accounts.

Punjab government announced on its Twitter handle that Dr. Shahid Masood did not appear before the joint investigation committee (JIT) to share the proofs regarding his claims on bank accounts of Zainab’s murderer. The tweet said the television anchorperson’s contacts numbers were unreachable.

Earlier, the reports of these alleged accounts surfaced on social media that quoted a famous television anchorperson who claimed Imran Ali has over 30 to 40 bank accounts, mostly of foreign origin. He also accused Imran Ali of being part to an international child sex abuse racket.

Taking notice of the reports of his claims, the Punjab government set up a JIT to launch an inquiry into the alleged accounts of Imran Ali.

Appearing before the Supreme Court, the TV anchor Dr Shahid Masood said the suspect had 37 local and foreign currency accounts and that he was a member of international racket.

During the hearing, the CJP directed the Punjab advocate-general to order an inquiry into Dr Masood’s claim.

“The Punjab Government has ordered an inquiry in order to ascertain as to how many alleged bank accounts did the suspect Imran Ali had in his name,” a notification said.

The apex court instructed the government official to present a report on it by Monday.

The bench earlier stated that when in police custody, IG Punjab was responsible for the security of suspect Imran Ali whereas during judicial custody, Punjab IG Prisons was responsible for his security.

The bench stated that if the suspect was harmed, then action would be taken against the respective Inspector-General.

“We will go to the depth of the matter to know about its truth,” remarked Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.