ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who is currently embroiled in Panama papers controversy has moved a detailed petition in the apex court raising objections to the report submitted by the Joint Investigation Team.
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In his petition, the premier Nawaz Sharif has sought the apex court to reject the report submitted by JIT and dismiss the disqualification petitions initially moved by his political rivals.
Taking the ground that the JIT has exceeded its mandate, Respondent number 1, Nawaz Sharif, in this case, has urged the top court to reject it declaring it as ‘nullity in the eyes of law’.
The petitioner has argued that the JIT has covered the issue, in its probe which has no link with the order passed by the apex court on April 20.
JIT Covering Hudaibya Paper Mills
The petition states that the JIT in its volume VIII and VIII-A has referred to the FIRs that have already been quashed by the Lahore High Court.
It also states that the Hudaibya Paper Mills case was also closed by the Lahore High COurt with no direction regarding the reopening of the case and so poses a question about the statement and documents recorded pertaining to that particular case.
Moreover, taking the same ground that the cases were quashed by the Lahore High Court, the petition states that recording statements of NAB chairman in this regard and SECP’s probe of Chaudhry SUgar Mills was also in question as respondent number 1, Nawaz Sharif was already acquitted.
The petitioner contended that the probe regarding these cases and collecting subsequent evidence was beyond the mandate given to it by the supreme court.
Hiring Wajid Zia’s cousin Firm Quist London
It also argues that through Mutual Legal Assistance, only governments can be consulted, unlike JIT that enlisted the assistance of a private firm for the probe.
Premier Nawaz Sharif has argued that the documents collected by the JIT have been illegally procured. Moreover, these were not original or attested, nor they bore any signatures of executant or scribe.
The response accuses that JIT head Wajid Zia acquired the service of a UK firm Quist London owned by Akhtar Raja, who happens to be a worker of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf London.
On that ground, it conveys that the activity was illegal and unsupported by law and so does not qualify as permissible in terms of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA).
‘According to the law, assistance from a private firm cannot be sought,’ claimed the Prime Minister’s lawyer.
JIT Overstepping Mandate
The response by premier says that the JIT overstepped its jurisdiction as the JIT had only to collect evidence in response to the questions put forth by apex court instead of pronouncing a judgment or findings on the basis of that evidence.
The petition argues that the findings or contents dubbed ‘crucial documentary evidence’ collected by the JIT were not admissible in the eyes of the law as wrongly presumed by the inquiry panel.
Moreover, they were not shown to any respondents who appeared before the team, the petition says seeking that it should be kept out of consideration.
‘The entire investigation was a farce and a breach process and therefore inherently biased and unfair to the respondents,’ it says.
The petitioner maintained that the JIT made no effort to record material evidence and so the report styled as final report was ‘deficient’ on the basis of which no decision could be made.
JIT Failing to Complete Probe in stipulated Time
Interestingly, the petition also objects to the extra six days taken by the inquiry panel in contradiction with the 60 days given to it by the apex court.
The response also claims that there was not a single incriminating evidence against Nawaz Sharif in the entire report.
‘Each and every purported finding by the JIT is based on no evidence and is reflective of the ingrained bias and prejudice of JIT members against the respondent, Nawaz Sharif’ according to the petition.
Witnesses Humiliated, Threatened
The most glaring objection put forth by the premier is that during the course of investigations, witnesses have been brow beaten, humiliated and threatened in a bid to make them withdraw the statements favouring Nawaz Sharif or to suit the ‘objectives of the JIT members’ to frame respondent in wrongdoing.
The objection list also carries a barrage of allegations starting from surveillance and tapping of phone calls of witnesses and respondents and ‘unlawful’ directions to chairman NAB regarding the pending inquiries against the Sharif family.
The response addresses that the JIT members wrongly claimed about harassment of their family members in a bid to prejudice the mind the apex court.
SECP, SBP member’s Political Affiliation
It also raises questions about the two JIT members Bilal Rasul of SECP and Amer Aziz of State Bank of Pakistan arguing that Bilal Rasul had close links with PML-Q and PTI.
Moreover, according to the petitioner, Bilal Rasul’s wife was a nominee of PML-Q for women’s seat in General Elections 2013.
About Amer Aziz, the petition states that he has served during the Musharraf stint as a specialist in banking and interrogated the Hudaibya Paper Mills.
Objections to Inclusion of ISI Member
The premier has also filed objections regarding the ISI member Brig Nauman Saeed in JIT that he was not a member of the intelligence service when the inquiry panel was formulated.
Moreover, the petition claims that the said ISI member adopted an aggressive posture during the probe.
He further claimed that news of the ISI officer’s appointment in the JIT came to knowledge via source.
“A source employee does not hold any legal value,” claimed the premier’s lawyer.
It was also stated that the salary of the ISI representative in the JIT was not disclosed in official government papers.
Publish Volume X of JIT Report
Apart from all this, the petition also observes that the respondent no 1, Nawaz Sharif could substantiate his claims if volume X could be provided to him.
The high-powered JIT had asked the top court not to publish the volume X as it contained correspondence with foreign firms.
Prayer to Apex Court
Finally, after having raised 28 objections, the premier seeks the top court to reject the report altogether.
The apex court has received the application and adjourned the hearing till Tuesday.
Ishaq Dar’s Objections
Apart from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, respondent number 10, finance minister Ishaq Dar has also moved a petition raising objections about the findings put forth by the JIT.
The response, submitted by the minister’s counsel, rejects the findings of the JIT report and claims the investigators worked beyond the mandate given to them by the Supreme Court.
Dar, in his petition stated that the JIT in its report failed to mention that he provided his income tax returns to the team from his personal record and moreover FBR also took the record from NAb and handed it over to JIT before the report was submitted in supreme court.
He argued that the JIT did not question him about the exorbitant increase in his wealth otherwise he would have explained it in detail.
Dar also attached his wealth statements with the petition stating that every rupee of his income and assets was duly explained.
He also objected to the JIT’s finding that Dar donated income to a charity foundation in a bid to evade tax, claiming that he did not get tax emeption.
The respondent Number 10, Ishaq Dar claims that the mala Fide of JIt was obvious and in view of above findings, the whole JIT report stands vitiated.
Regarding allegations in the JIT report that the respondent [Ishaq Dar] “did not file income tax returns from 1981/82 to 2001/02”, the response states that “no evidence” was found “substantiating the said allegations”.
He termed the findings that Dar did not file income tax returns from 1981 to 2001 factually incorrect.
Dar claims that he already submitted income tax returns and wealth statement spanning 22 years of himself and his family to NAB, a story of which was published by The News reporter Ansar Abbasi as well.
He also claimed that he provided tax returns from the year 2003 to 2007/2008 to the JIT, an acknowledgement of which was given as well.
According to petition, Dar also told the JIT members that his entire record uptil 2001/2002 was taken into custody by NAB from FBR in a period statement to the 1999 coup however as Dar advised FBR to cooperate with the inquiry team , the FBR retrieved record from NAb and submitted it to JIT on July 8.
The petitioner accuses the JIT of mala fide by stating that the JIT could have received record from NAB directly as a representative of graft buster was part of team, however, the record was provided to it by the FBR.
The petition states that it was shocking that the JIT did not mention that the record preceding 2002 was provided to it by FBR and record relating to period 2003-2008 was handed over by the respondent himself.
‘On the contrary, the JIT has recorded the adverse finding that the relevant returns from 1981/82 to 2001/02 have not been filed’ it alleges.
The JIT report claims an “exorbitant increase in assets since 2008/09 for which sources of income were not furnished”. Ishaq Dar invested GBP 5.5 million in BARAQ Holdings in UAE but the source of funds was not disclosed, the report claims. Out of these funds, GBP 4.97 million was given by him to his son, it adds.
To this, the petitioner objected that he was not questioned about this during the sessions, otherwise he would have explained.
Dar claimed that he was non-resident for tax purpose for a period of year 2003-2008 and during the time, he earned remuneration as professional advisory service in UAE as finance adviser to H.H Shaikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan.
‘Respondent no. 10 had a closing foreign assets balance of GBP 6.553 million at the end of 2005, of which GBP 5.5 million was accumulated credit balance was Baraq Holdings’ the response said.
He alleges that the said credit balance was misconstructed by the JIT as investment whereas it was accumulated unpaid remuneration for professional advisory services.
He maintains that the respondent was not an investor, but the CEO of the company hence the income earned abroad was the source of funds for his credit balance which were declared before the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Dar claimed that he was not bound to declare his overseas income for the period when he was non-resident of the country from 2003 to 2008.
The petition maintains that the increase in foreign assets worth GBP 6.125 million by the end of the year 2008 of Dar resulted as he took oath as finance minister during the Gillani stint in coalition with PPP.
He also mentioned Income Tax ordinance in his petition and claimed that he received repayments from his son as Qarz-e-Hasna and copies of bank transactions were attached.
He also mentioned as to where he invested all his money.
Hiding of Assets
To the allegations of hiding assets, the finance minister reiterated that he put forth his financial details spanning 34 years and it was baseless to say he evaded tax.
‘Hence there was no basis for the perverse finding of tax evasion, which claerly reflects mala fide on the part of JIT’ the response said.
Giving Charity to Own organisation
Dar, in response to the claims that he donated money to his own organisation, to evade tax replied that he never publicised as to what extent he donated as ‘charities are given in the way of Allah’ but was compelled to publicise it as under:
A total amount of Rs169.27 million was donated to charity by respondent from 2009 to 2016. He stated that from this Hajveri Trust and Hajveri organisation received Rs86.18 million.
He detailed that the audit reports of his organisation were attached and Hajveri trust managed an orphanage with 92 children.
‘Hajveri Foundation pays for free dialysis of poor and deserving patients, makes contributions to relief efforts after national calamities’ it read besides mentioning other works.
Apart from Hajveri trust, Dar claimed that he donated Rs 50 million to CM Punjab relief fund back in 2009 for IDPs of NWFP. Additionally, Rs 10 million was given to the same fund in 2009 and 2015.
He declared that all the donations were reflected in annual wealth reconciliation statements adding that it was regrettable and deplorable that the charity to organisations was termed as tax evasion by the JIT.
Assets Beyond Known Source of Income
To the allegation that the lifestyle of Dar was in flagrant contradiction with his known source of income, he replied that his reconciliation statement was irrefutable proof that annual income and expenditure for 34 years were substantiated and so the claim was not justified regarding beyond source of income.
Prayer to Court
In the light of above statements, Ishaq Dar sought the apex court to summarily reject the findings of JIT report pertaining to the respondent.
The supreme court of Pakistan has adjourned the hearing till Tuesday (tomorrow).