ISLAMABAD – A larger bench of the Supreme Court has resumed hearing a slew of petitions seeking a probe into Panama Leaks here on Thursday (Today).
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A five-member larger bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa is hearing the landmark case with other members Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ejazul Hasan.
During today’s hearing, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that according to Prime Minister, his life was like an open book but apparently some pages of that book were missing.
Counsel for PM Nawaz Makhdoom Ali Khan is currently arguing before the bench regarding the ownership of London flats and offshore companies.
Makhdoom kicked off his arguments by clarifying that Nawaz Sharif had no company in the British Virgin Islands adding that Nawaz Sharif was not beneficial owner, director or shareholder of any offshore company and so he was never linked to any of them.
“The plaintiffs sought disqualification of Prime Minister on the basis of his conflicting statements, exchange of gifts between the premier and his successors,” said Makhdoom Ali Khan.
He maintained that Hussain Nawaz had a valid National Tax Number (NTN) and PTI’s counsel Naeem Bukhari accepted it before the bench.
Makhdoom Ali Khan read the transcript of Prime Minister’s speech which he made on the floor of National Assembly before the apex court.
“The premier did not mention that his children had started businesses. He had said that his children had utilised money after selling Jeddah factory,” clarified Makhdoom Ali Khan.
Makhdoom went on and expressed that PTI presented agreement of Dubai factory as well and alleged that Dubai factory was sold when it was in loss. He claimed that there was a contradiction between petitions and arguments of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
PM Nawaz counsel expressed that Nawaz Sharif was never among the directors of Dubai factory and PTI accepted that Dubai factory was sold against Rs. 9 million dollars.
To this, Justice Gulzar inquired whether Dubai factory physically existed or not. He went on and said that the premier himself admitted operation of Dubai factory along with money trail related to it. He remarked that the burden of proof rested with the Sharif family.
Justice Asif Khosa expressed that no one knew about money trail except Makhdoom Ali Khan and reiterated that he needed to convince and satisfy the bench. He observed that the issue still remains unclear even after the clarification of Nawaz Sharif.
“Salman Butt admitted before the court that premier’s speech on the floor of house was a political speech,” remarked justice Asif Saeed Khosa and asked PM’s counsel how much time would be required for concluding his arguments.
Makhdoom Ali Khan replied that he would wind up his arguments in few days. To this, justice Asif Saeed replied that the bench would hear the case no matter how much time it takes, because the bench was hearing only the Panama case and would continue even on Friday.
Justice Gulzar questioned Makhdoom Ali Khan whether Nawaz Sharif was a shareholder in family business.
To this Makhdoom Ali Khan replied that Nawaz Sharif was not related in any case pertaining to the property and businesses being discussed.
PM’s counsel clarified that Nawaz Sharif was not named even in Al-Toufeeq case and added that he was not linked to steel mills in Jeddah and Dubai as well and that is what he himself said in his speech.
“The apex court should form a judicial commission to probe Dubai factory by physically visiting the site,” said Makhdoom Ali Khan and added: “Nawaz Sharif did not tell a lie.”
He argued that he would respond to each and every question of the court but legally the burden of proof rested with the plaintiffs who had made contradictory statements.
PM’s counsel maintained in his statement that two of the methods could be utilised for disqualification of premier, including no confidence motion and proving that he has not been trustworthy anymore or filing an application with the Election Commission of Pakistan.
He detailed that for disqualification, application can be filed at the time of submitting nomination papers.
To this, Justice Sheikh Azmat replied that disqualification reference can be filed even after elections. Meanwhile, Justice Aijaz Afzal said that there was no link between the disqualification laws and the current case that Makhdoom was discussing.
‘Representation of People Act’ is valid before and during the elections’ remarked Justice Aijaz Afzal.
Makhdoom Ali Khan reiterated that there was a difference between intentionally hiding something and unknowingly not mentioning details.
He went on and expressed that PTI’s counsel Naeem Bukhari mentioned book of Baker in his arguments and the same author spoke against army and inquired whether that meant that it should be accepted.
Meanwhile talking to newsmen during the break, PTI’s spokesperson Naeem Ul Haq stated that it was evident that the premier had nothing to clarify and defend himself. He alleged that the Qatari letter presented before the court was fake. Moreover, Fawad Ch said that Sharif family had no proof related to Jeddah factory and added that Tariq Shafi’s signature in affidavit were forged.
On the other hand, PML-N’s representative Danyal Aziz expressed that today was an important day regarding the case but PTI lawyers did not show up. He claimed that the larger bench endorsed that there was no conflict between any of Nawaz Sharif’s statements.
“The Prime Minister surrendered himself before the Supreme Court,” said Danyal Aziz.
During the last hearing, the apex court categorically remarked that it was yet to be established as to when the properties were purchased.
During the course of hearing, Justice Khosa said they could not review someone’s entire life. The court ruled that no one will be made party if they had not been made respondents in the matter in hand earlier.
After the conclusion of arguments by PTI and AML president Sheikh Rasheed, PM Nawaz counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan kicked off his arguments.
Makhdoom Ali Khan expressed that the FBR should investigate the tax details pertaining to Sharif family adding that he was listening to PTI’s arguments since the past week.
“I want to unveil the truth,” said Makhdoom Ali Khan and added that PTI had accused Prime Minister of tax evasion.
He maintained that he was initially focusing on four London flats and added that it was not revealed who was the respondent in this case. To this, Justice Asif Khosa replied that premier Nawaz Sharif was the respondent and added that there were issues apart from London flats as well.
Makhdoom Ali Khan clarified that the name of Nawaz Sharif was not mentioned in Panama Leaks.
PM Nawaz counsel detailed that the Sharif family was linked up and PTI tried to imply that whole of the Sharif family looted the country.
“PTI named Abbas Sharif, Rabia Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and others in their arguments,” said Makhdoom Ali Khan.
At this point, justice Asif Khosa replied that he should focus on Nawaz Sharif and expressed that the apex court could summon anyone when needed.
Makhdoom Ali Khan argued that the plaintiffs mentioned the Sharif family without naming Nawaz Sharif.
“It’s a general kind of plea and the third plea is to order National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to complete corruption cases’ investigations which had nothing to do with the premier, again,” he said.
Earlier, Naeem in his concluding arguments sought disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
He expressed that according to Sharif family, the barrier certificate was in possession of Qatari family before 2006 adding the ruling family needed to prove that all the transactions and dealings were fair and legitimate.
He claimed that Maryam Nawaz had no money for offshore companies and so her father Nawaz Sharif gave her money. He stated that according to public law Maryam Nawaz was dependent on her father. Bukhari expressed that according to record, Maryam’s husband Capt. Safdar had no source of income. He sought the disqualification of premier Nawaz Sharif.
To this, Justice Azmat questioned whether the court should assume that Maryam was dependent on Hussain Nawaz. He observed that according to PTI’s counsel, Sharif family bought London flats between 1993 to 1996 but according to Sharif family, the flats were transferred in their names in 2006.
Justice Aijaz Afzal inquired whether the person living with his/her father is a dependent.
Awami Muslim League president Sheikh Rasheed started his arguments by questioning how Maryam Nawaz could be one of the wealthiest ladies in the country without any source of income.
He endorsed the arguments of Naeem Bukhari and expressed that the judges had taken oath of dispensing justice.
Rasheed maintained that the apex court was well aware of the case and the plaintiffs were there just to assist the bench. He reiterated that Maryam Nawaz was dependent on Nawaz Sharif contrary to the claims of Sharif family. The AML chief accused Nawaz Sharif of being directly involved in Panama case.
“Qatari prince was like a rescue 1122 for Nawaz Sharif,” quipped Sheikh Rasheed.
He went on with his remarks and maintained that Qatari letter could not be considered substantial evidence because it lacked an affidavit. He expressed the view that Qatari letter was no more than a tissue paper.
“The face behind the case was Saif Ur Rehman,” said Sheikh Rasheed in his quintessential witty tone.