ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court of Pakistan reserved the judgment in the landmark Panama case after it concluded hearing, here on Friday.
Before reserving judgment, Justice Azmat Saeed remarked that the bench guarantees examining the issue of prime minister’s disqualification, in the backdrop of Panama papers.
Justice Ejaz Afzal also remarked that the top court was already reviewing the issue of disqualifying prime minister or not.
The third member of bench, Justice Aijazul Ahsan remarked that the bench would not back off after issuing a verdict, which would be announced later (not revealed by apex court yet).
Earlier on Friday, the apex court ordered to go through the ‘classified’ volume X titled “Mutual Legal Assistance Requests ─ Ongoing” of the report submitted by the Joint Investigation Team and remarked that no substantial evidence could be found suggesting Maryam Nawaz was dependent on Nawaz Sharif.
The specific volume was the only one which was not made public as the head of high-powered JIT, Wajid Zia requested the top court to keep it secret saying it carried communications with foreign dignitaries who provided assistance to collect vital evidence.
Justice Azmat Saeed while receiving the said volume remarked that it would contain details regarding the letters forwarded by the JIT.
“Everything related to the case would be brought to light,” remarked Justice Azmat Saeed and added that the volume was being inspected on the request of Khawaja Haris, counsel for premier Nawaz Sharif.
The bench also directed that no one would be allowed to see the contents of volume X before Premier’s counsel.
Khawaja Haris replied that it was a prerogative of the apex court to make the volume X available to anyone it allows.
The special bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal, comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan is hearing the case regarding the implementation of Panama papers judgment.
The counsel for premier’s son, Salman Akram Raja winded up his arguments to justify how the pricey flats in London’s upscale neighbourhood, Avenfiedl House were purchased by the ruling family.
Taking the floor, Salman Akram said that same sized signature on trust deeds and other documents was a mistake but Sharif family could not be blamed for that.
He clarified that the signatures on trust deeds of Nescoll/Nielson were different from those on Coombre group.
‘The mistake was committed in the chamber of Barrister Akram Sheikh’ said Salman Akram Raja.
Responding to the Notary attestation on weekends, Salman contended that such attestation could be done in London even during off days.
‘In any case, there was no intention of giving fake and forged documents to supreme court’ Salman added.
Justice Azmat Saeed remarked that the bench has noted the point that a solicitor is available in UK even on Saturday. He also told Salman Akram Raja that his preparation was excellent for the day.
Justice Aijazul Ahsan said that the issue remains on the use of Calibri font in trust deeds.
Justice Ejaz Afzal posed a point-blank question for Salman Akram Raja and asked: Do you agree that the reference should be forwarded to National Accountability Bureau?
To this Salman replied that the case needs a further probe.
The counsel contended that till 2004, the source money for business to Hassan, Hussain was provided to them by their grandfather, Mian Muhammad Sharif.
‘If children fail to justify their assets, the father could not be blamed for that’ argued Salman Akram Raja.
Justice Ejaz Afzal remarked that Maryam Nawaz was beneficial of companies but it was not mentioned in returns filed by her husband Captain (r) Safdar.
He clarified that ‘Representation of the People Act’ would sprung into action on this concealment of offshore companies.
Raja also claimed that he could not say anything regarding the Qatari Prince Jassim but claimed that he was not offered to record statement via video link.
The crux of yesterday’s hearing was a remark of Justice Azmat Saeed who clarified that If children of premier fail to prove purchase of the properties in London, public office holder will be held accountable.
Ishaq Dar’s Counsel
Tariq Hassan, the counsel for finance minister Ishaq Dar also concluded his arguments on the petition objecting to the report submitted by Joint Investigation Team.
Tariq Hassan said that he faced a tough time facing the questions put forth by the bench however, claimed that Ishaq Dar’s life was like an open book.
He also submitted tax record of Ishaq Dar spanning over 34 years to the apex court.
‘Ishaq Dar was a professional accountant from last 40 years’ said Tariq Hassan and continued that there was not a single case or evidence against Dar.
The counsel argued that it was not acceptable for respondent no. 10 to be dragged into accountability without a reason.
Justice Aijazul Ahsan expressed that Ishaq Dar’s son provided funds to Hill Metal and wondered why the minister kept on demanding immunity before the JIT.
Tariq Hassan confronted and claimed that Ishaq Dar did not conceal anything from the six-member Joint Investigation Team.
Justice Ejaz Afzal remarked that the court would only listen to those arguments by Tariq Hassan which are not included in written response.
Justice Aijazul Ahsan remarked that Ishaq Dar did not furnish any written contract of his services with Sheikh Al-Nahyan before the JIT.
‘An increase of Rs800 million in assets of Ishaq Dar in five years is surprising’ remarked Justice Aijazul Ahsan.
The apex court judge also made it clear that any decision would be taken in the light of law and constitution.
PTI’s Counsel Naeem Bukhari
Naeem Bukhari, the counsel for plaintiff, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf also started his arguments to confront the answers given by the respondents.
Naeem contended that premier Nawaz Sharif concealed his company FZE Capital in his returns and so he was no more ‘Sadiq’ or ‘Ameen’.
‘A lie regarding the sale of Jeddah mill in Rs3 million was told on the floor of the lower house of parliament’ claimed Naeem Bukhari.
Bukhari went on and claimed that Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution deals with concealing assets.
To this, Justice Ejaz Afzal inquired whether it comes under the domain of supreme court as well.
He also wondered whether the Constitution prohibits the premier to do a second job holding public office adding that it was forbidden for judges at least.
The additional Attorney General argued that there was no specific prohibition in the Constitution of Pakistan over the matter.
However, Naeem Bukhari argued that the issue relates to conflict of interest and maintained that it was still unknown how Hill MEtal earned such staggerign profits.
‘It could be better if Nawaz Sharif had stated that Mian Sharif purchased London flats’ said Naeem Bukhari and claimed that Maryam nawaz was front man of Nawaz Sharif.