Islamabad: Pakistan's Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notices to former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani and other officials to respond to allegations that the previous Pakistan Peoples Party-led government closed a probe into corruption in organising the Haj pilgrimage. A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, which is investigating a multi-million rupee scam in organising the Haj, also issued notices to the Law Ministry and the Attorney General and directed the respondents to clarify their position regarding the "exemption" granted to the former premier.
The bench observed that the Law Ministry wrote a letter to the Investigation Officer, Hussain Asghar, and directed him not to conduct a probe against Gilani as he enjoyed immunity under the Constitution. The bench directed the Law Ministry to present a copy of the letter and to explain the reasons for writing the letter. The Chief Justice questioned how Gilani could seek exemption as he was no longer the premier.
Gilani had to resign as premier in 2012 after the apex court convicted him of contempt for refusing to reopen a graft case against President Asif Ali Zardari. During the hearing in the apex court, Investigation Officer Asghar alleged that Gilani's assets had increased "dramatically" after the Haj scam. He said the Law Ministry had directed him not to proceed with the inquiry against Gilani.
The Chief Justice sought details about the persons arrested in connection with the scandal and Asghar replied that former Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi was arrested and later freed on bail. Asghar said several other persons had also been arrested. The case was later adjourned for two weeks.