Money laundering case: SC orders to remove names of Bilawal, Murad Ali Shah from ECL, JIT report

12:26 PM | 7 Jan, 2019
Money laundering case: SC orders to remove names of Bilawal, Murad Ali Shah from ECL, JIT report

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Monday issued orders to remove Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Murad Ali Shah's name from the joint investigation team (JIT) report and the Exit Control List (ECL).

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard the mega money laundering and fake bank accounts case.

The CJP asked the JIT counsel why Bilawal's name was included in the report. "How does being a shareholder prove that Bilawal is part of a scandal?" the top judge questioned.

"When his (Bilawal’s) father and paternal aunt were running the businesses, he was only one year old. Why has his name been included? Bilawal is taking forward his mother's political inheritance," the court added.

At this, Farooq H Naek stated, "Zardari and Talpur have no direct link with the allegations. The allegations against the former president and his sister are based on assumptions."

"Zardari, Talpur and Bilawal's replies to the JIT have not been made part of the report. This step by the JIT is based on ill-intentions and we reject the allegations," Naek further said. When the chief justice pointed out that there were "no ill-intentions" in the formation of the JIT , Naek said, "I take back the term."

On this, counsel Latif Khosa said, "A media trial is being conducted through the JIT report. Federal cabinet members are talking about the governor's rule and the government is attempting to remove all other political parties."

The JIT counsel then said, "We can delete Bilawal's name from the report." The chief justice then ordered that "all parts of the JIT report which mention Bilawal's name be deleted".

Further, during the hearing, advocate general Sindh said, “Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah’s name was placed on the ECL without any investigation.”

The chief justice then ordered that Bilawal and CM Shah’s names be removed from the ECL . "Bilawal Bhutto and the Sindh chief minister were only included for political scoring," Justice Nisar remarked.

Earlier as the hearing went underway, the attorney general submitted a clarification regarding placing names of 172 suspects on the Exit Control List (ECL) in light of the JIT 's report.

The attorney general informed the court, “The federal government has forwarded the matter of placing names on ECL to the review committee. Further progress on this matter is expected by January 10.”

At this, the Omni Group counsel stated, “The matter has been further complicated by forwarding it to the committee. We don’t know when the committee will take measures.”

Expressing anger over the Omni Group counsel’s remarks, the chief justice said, “If you have an issue then forget the cabinet, I will place names on ECL .”

“You are not discussing the real case,” Justice Nisar further told the Omni Group counsel.

“So much matter has come against Omni Group that no one can shut their eyes to it. Bags of sugar have also been picked up, tell us which court should we forward this matter to?” Justice Nisar added.

The also ordered to remove the names of Farooq H Naik and the brother of Anwar Maqsood. "However, JIT can call and independently investigates CM Sindh and PPP chairman at any time", the court maintained.

The top court ordered NAB to complete the case within two months.