The attorney general’s office threw the ball back in the SC’s court on Saturday, asking it to determine itself if the name of the individual responsible for the leak on social media of a picture of the prime minister’s son Hussain Nawaz during a meeting with the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in the Panama Papers case should be revealed.
A rejoinder submitted on behalf of Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali also requested the Supreme Court to decide whether the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had the legal authority to snoop around the members of the JIT for the alleged benefit of certain individuals.
A three-judge implementation bench of the court, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, which will resume the hearing of the case and is expected to receive the much-awaited final report of the JIT on Monday, had asked the AG whether he had any reservations about revealing the name of the individual responsible for the photo leak.
Reports related to Panama Papers JIT submitted on behalf of AG
Two reports, dealing with the issues of the leaked picture and IB’s conduct, were submitted to the Supreme Court on behalf of the AG in a sealed envelope on Saturday.
The court had cautioned the AG that his response should be furnished before it, and not through media reports.
It held that it would decide later on Hussain Nawaz’s request to form a commission to investigate the leak of his picture.
According to sources, the AG stated in his reply that since his office had no clue regarding the identity of the individual responsible for the leak, it would be better if the court considered the matter itself and reached a conclusion.
Earlier, the JIT had explained to the bench that immediately after becoming aware of the leak of the picture on social media on June 5, it had initiated a comprehensive inquiry and not only identified the culprit within 24 hours but also submitted its report to the apex court.
The individual was removed immediately from the assigned duties and reverted to his parent department. The department confirmed that a departmental inquiry had been completed and appropriate disciplinary action taken.
The inquiry established that the circulated image was not actual video footage of any interview but a ‘still image’ — likely a photograph or a ‘screen-shot’ taken from one of only two monitors connected to the video camera in the interview room of the JIT on the premises of the Federal Judicial Academy.
The court had also asked the AG to look into the dynamics behind the action taken by the IB and its effects on the report to be submitted by the JIT to it.
The directive was issued after rejecting IB’s response which had taken the plea that the bureau had collected intelligence on members of the six-man team for ready reference. The bureau said it always gathered intelligence on matters having a bearing on issues of national importance.
The IB had reacted after having been blamed by the JIT for hacking the Facebook account of its member Bilal Rasul — which was also used by his family, including wife — to retrieve the contents attached by Hussain Nawaz in his complaint before the apex court.
The JIT had alleged that the private social media pages of the Facebook account were accessed by Mr Nawaz ostensibly through the facilitation of the IB, which was an infringement of privacy and confirmed blatant misuse of the government machinery to abusively support the Sharif family.