ISLAMABAD: The five-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali has adjourned the hearing of the petitions seeking disqualification of the prime minister over Panamagate case till 9:30 am December 9. The court directed all the parties to the case to submit submission over the formation of a commission to probe Panama papers.
The chief justice said that the commission will enjoy same powers as a judge of Supreme Court. the enquiry commission if formed would have limited jurisdiction. He also said that the commission would not be allocated months of time but it has to make the decision at the earliest.
When lawyer of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Naeem Bukhari asked the court to give some time to think the court said that there is no pressure from it and asked him to take his time to submit submissions.
At the start of the hearing today counsel of the prime minister Salman Aslam Butt resumed arguing his side of the case. Imran Khan was also present in the court.
Justice Azmat Saeed asked the prime minister’s counsel that when did the prime minister buy the land for Maryam Nawaz and when did she paid the money for the property to her father. The father paid the money to the daughter as gift which she returned to him in lieu of the land, he added. he also asked the prime minister’s counsel, “what is Maryam Nawaz’s address.”
To this Salman Butt replied that Maryam Nawaz lives in Jati Umra where others members of the family also live. Over this Justice Azmat said that Jati Umra’s land is in the name of Maryam Nawaz adding addressing Salman Butt that “me and you better know how tax returns are being filed. the issue of tax returns is fictional because perhaps that’s how our tax returns are being filed.
Commenting further Justice Azmat said that this is a routine practice and there is nothing illegal about it. At this point in time Salman Butt argued that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which is one of the petitioner, has mixed up arrears with assets.
Justice Azmat further asked how and from where Maryam Nawaz’s expenses are met. The court is asking about the source of income limited to income and not with reference to tax, he added. As per tax return Maryam Nawaz has zero tax-liable income, Justice Azmat said.
Arguing his case further Salman Butt that if prime minister allows his daughter to live in his house does she become a dependent adding that everyone give gifts to his daughters.
At this point in time Justice Ijaz-ul-Hassan said that Maryam Nawaz neither works nor a source of income and that her only source of income is taking gifts from father and brothers.
Interjecting Justice Azmat addressing Salman Butt said that his arguments thus far has failed to resolve issue pertaining to Maryam Nawaz being a dependent. She has declared Rs 2.1 million agricultural income and as much as Rs 3.5 million travel expenses, he added. To this Salman Butt replied that her husband Capt Safdar owns 160 kanals of land. Talk first about Maryam Nawaz and then about Capt Safdar, Justice Azmat told Butt who said that she is not a dependent of her father and the prime minister is not bound to reveal her tax return and this issue was also raised before the Speaker who dismissed it and a petition is being filed about it at the High Court.
Addressing Salman Butt Justice Kohosa asked him if he does not want the court to hear the case because the matter is pending hearing at the court. Salman Butt that he will submit the details of the pending cases. He further told the court that Hussain Nawaz is the beneficiary while Maryam Nawaz is the trustee of the offshore companies.
Justice Khosa said that both the parties are arguing their case on this very point of the document and while it is not court’s job to record proofs and evidences an enquiry commission has to be formed to scrutinize the documents for which all options are open.
Justice Azmat said that PTI argues that the trustee of the company should pay tax properly to which prime minister’s counsel said that no tax is being paid for offshore company because if such has been the case there would have been no offshore companies. There is no need to get trust deed registered which could even be verbal and British law permits this, Butt added.
Here Justice Khosa said that Maryam Nawaz is a beneficiary of some companies. He also asked the legal standing if the verbal deed is contrary to documents? When Justice Ijaz asked if Mossack Fonseca was informed about the trust deed Butt said that there was no necessity to inform anyone about it. Than on what basis did Mossack Fonseca made Maryam beneficiary of the offshore companies, Justice Ijaz added.
At this point in time Justice Azmat Saeed asked Butt if rejects Cromber company’s and other documents filed by Imran Khan’s lawyer to which Butt said that he will argue about it later. We were told while we were practicing that if a judge raises a question it should be answered, Justice Asif said.
Saying that there are dozens of files in his office Butt said that Panama papers has no legal or certified status. PTI says that the liabilities of Dubai Mill was 36 million dirhams while its lawyer Naeem Bukhari put the amount at two million in electricity dues which were paid off in installments. Who paid the installments Justice Azmat asked to which Butt replied that Tariq Shafi paid it. If the mill was in loss and was sold how the arrears were paid, asked Justice Azmat to which Butt said how could we could produce 40-year old record when Dubai banks do not keep records over five years old. The record of our companies were sealed and taken into possession after the 1999 martial how could we know how much school fee was paid four years ago, Butt said.
This prompted comment from Justice Khosa who said that “Butt saheb is giving dangerous arguments to defend his client the prime minister.” The record of a man’s life and that of a company are totally distinct and different and even today billions of rupees worth of business between two companies in Faisalabad are done through chits, the companies bring documents to save tax but there is a difference between actual and paid tax, he added. A company showing net worth of 200 million actually worth billions but all contracts are based on actual value, the chief justice added. To this Butt added that’s what he is seeking, protection from such allegations.
Prime minister’s lawyer argued that the name of his client is nowhere mentioned in Panama papers and that all the records were recovered through courts because it was sealed and this was an extremely hard work. In prime minister’s speech it was said that all the records is there and could be presented, he continued, the issue with the BCCI was settled in 1978 for $ 21 million.
When Butt said that his client gave speeches in April and May ths year Justice Ijaz said that in those speech the prime minister did not mention Qatar to which Butt said that those were political speeches and not statements given in court.
The problem is this that there is no record of investment made in Qatar and money transfer, Justice Ijaz said. Arguing his case Butt said that his client is not responsible for every work that Sharif family does and he did not sign any document anywhere. Here Justice asked Butt whether he wants to say that the father does not know about the talks between grandfather and grandsons to which Butt replied that his client might know about it though Mian Sharif used to do things as he liked.
When Justice Ijaz asked if there are documents of matters settled with Al Thani family Butt said that Hussain Nawaz’s counsel will answer this question because at that time business matters used to be cash-based.
Salman informed the court that he doesn’t know anything how dealings with Qatari royal family begun and wrapped up. Then why it was said that all the issues would be brought before the people, Justice Khosa asked. It would have been better saying what’s being said here in the court to the people, Justice Amir Hani Muslim commented. Now you are calling prime minister’s speeches political, he added to which Butt replied that whatever record was there has been presented in the court and this included 40-year-old record.
Justice Khosa said that prime minister had said that all the record is available and could be presented if asked at the relevant forum but now you are saying that all the record was taken away from you in 1999 and from where the old record could be made available, should we accept this record as final or take prime minister’s statement as wrong, Justice Khosa asked to which Butt insisted that there is no contradiction in the two, you are saying that it is not possible to provide record so should we accept that, Justice Khosa asked Butt. You had 21 million dirhams in 1980 lets start from there, he added. Nawaz Sharif is also our prime minister and respectable but he has to give answers in Panama case, Justice Khosa said.
Here Justice Amir Hani Muslim commented that less arguments are given in court but much more are given in media, media should make the decision of its own case we would make the decision about the case that is before us. when Salman Butt objected the way the things are being uttered bout the prime minister Justice Khosa said that the court had also told former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf that till the allegations were proved he commanded respect.
When the hearing resumed after the break Justice Khosa added that despite respect for personalities the court will continue asking questions to which Butt replied that he would give all the answers while Justice Hani said that all the questions should be answered in the court because more arguments are being given in media than the court.
Addressing Butt Justice Azmat said that in his case the money trail starts in Dubai and goes to London. When Butt asked if the purpose is to track prime minister’s family from 1980 till today Justice asked asked him if given such an answer in court will be proper and would it be proper to say that i don’t know what my elders and younger ones have done? The prime minister had said in an interview about deciding to distance himself from business could we get a record of that TV interview, he asked.
When chief justice asked Butt if he feels whether the court could decide the case after hearing all these points like a summary he replied in negative over which the Justice asked why the court is hearing the case. When the documents are being asked for it is being told they could be acquired from the net. At this point when chief justice was speaking Akram Shaikh tried to interject over which the court reprimanded him saying that “you may be a senior lawyer but it is necessary that you speak whenever you like.”
The chief justice also said that if the court has to institute an enquiry commission anyway why its time is being wasted.
And at this precise time the court asked the parties to the case to tell the court whether it should hear the case or a commission has to be formed after making consultations. Salman Butt argued that the prime minister can not be declared disqualified under Article 62 and 63 of the constitution over which Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali said other grounds are also present to do this.
At this point Justice Hani said that the primary issue is whether the money flew out of the country or not. When Salman said that as yet in Imran Khan’s petition prime minister’s link to this matter has not been proven Justice Azmat said that the review of the documents submitted by PTI and Sharif family has still remains to be done. The petitioner has objection to the trust deed of London flats submitted by the family, Justice Azmat said adding that both the parties have to prove that the documents submitted by them are true and it is not about having flats and offshore companies.
At this point inviting comments from all the parties for formation of a commission gave them time till 12:30 pm.
Justice Khosa said that there are three heavy and grand questions in this case which would be asked later.