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SC Reserves Verdict on Panama Leak Case

Islamabad (July 21, 2017): The three-member special bench on Friday reserved its verdicts on Panama case after hearing arguments of counsels of all parties in the case.

The bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal heard the arguments of Nawaz Sharif’s children counsel Salman Akram Raja, Ishaq Dar’s counsel Dr Tariq Hassan, counter arguments from PTI lead counsel Naeem Bokhari, JI counsel and Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

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After the counsels of the parties concluded their arguments and counter arguments, the bench reserved the verdict on the a case, which might have far reaching impact on the politics and future of the country.

While concluding the hearing of the case, Justice Azmat Saeed remarked that the bench would review the matter of the prime minister’s disqualification and not back down from its decision.

The bench observed that it will operate strictly within the remits of the law and not trample anyone’s individual rights.

The three-member bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, also heard the arguments of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s counsel as well as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor general today.

Dar’s counsel submitted additional documents to the court and hoped it would answer the queries raised by the court earlier.

The NAB prosecutor informed the bench that they will ‘soon’ decide whether to reopen the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case.

Once the respondents’ counsels completed their arguments, the petitioners’ counsels were given a chance to respond to the replies of the respondents.

Justice Ejaz remarked that they will swim against the tide, within the remits of the law, if they have to.

The bench observed that action is taken in accordance with the relevant law if the assets of a public office holder are more than his known income sources.

Justice Ijaz commented that the prime minister, in his speech in the National Assembly and before the nation, said he has all the necessary proof but they are waiting for this ‘proof’ for over a year.

The judge observed further that Capt (retd) Safdar’s assets declaration does not mention Maryam’s beneficial ownership of offshore companies.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s counsel Dr Hassan said he was asked tough questions by the bench during his last appearance. He informed the bench that he had submitted 34-year records of his client, which should hopefully answer all the court’s queries.

Justice Ejaz observed that the bench will examine all the documents in detail.

Justice Ijaz observed that even if the Hudabiya Paper Mills case is kept aside for a moment, there is sufficient material against Dar.

Hassan said he does not have the employment records of the finance minister, who served as an adviser in the Middle East.

The judge further observed that the bench cares about all the respondents and will proceed according to the law.

Afterwards, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Naeem Bukhari began his arguments on the replies of the respondents.

Bukhari argued that Nawaz Sharif did not declare his association with FZE Capital. “He is not sadiq and amin in front of the people,” he said.

When asked by the bench that the other side claims the prime minister did not receive any salary, Bukhari claimed the proof of the premier receiving a salary exists.

“Nawaz Sharif concealed payment of salaries as well as his appointment as the chairman of FZE Capital,” said Bukhari.

Justice Ejaz inquired if public office holders can be privately employed, observing that judges are clearly not allowed to engage in private work while in office.

The additional attorney general commented that there is no clear cut restriction regarding this on the prime minister.

Following Bukhari, petitioner Sheikh Rashid presented his response to the respondents’ arguments.

“Nawaz Sharif made threatening remarks regarding the JIT,” said Rashid, adding that this amounts to contempt.

He claimed the money trail was not provided to the court despite repeated requests of the bench. “There’s nothing in the case if you take out the Qatari letter,” he added.

Following Rashid, Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) counsel presented his arguments after which the bench reserved its judgment and adjourned the hearing.

Earlier the court opened Volume X of the joint investigation team’s (JIT) report, which was earlier marked “confidential”, providing a copy of the same to Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Harris.

In their objections to the JIT report, filed before the SC earlier this week, the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had described the investigators’ request to withhold Volume X “mala fide”. During Monday’s proceedings, the judges had also expressed their willingness to consider making Volume X public.

“The volume contains details of the JIT’s correspondence and will help clear a number of things,” Justice Azmat Saeed told Harris, adding that the chapter was being opened on the lawyer’s request.

The judges directed that the volume would not be shown to anyone else for now.

The counsel reiterated before the bench that Maryam Nawaz, the PM’s daughter, was not the owner of the Avenfield flats in London. “The [JIT’s] report shows that Maryam Nawaz is the beneficial owner of the flats,” noted Justice Ejaz Afzal, adding that her ownership of the off-shore companies was not included in the tax returns of her husband, Captain Safdar.

“If the court concludes that the ownership is not included in the [tax] returns, then the Representation of the People’s Act 1976 will be applicable,” said Justice Ejaz Afzal.


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