Panama Papers row: lawyers oppose judiciary’s stance

Adopting a resolution over the Panama leaks, the top body of lawyers, Pakistan Bar Council, opposed Supreme Court’s stance, saying there is no need to make a special law to investigate the matter but to exercise suo-motu jurisdiction to adjudicate the issue.

A day after the Supreme Court responded to the federal government’s letter to constitute an inquiry commission to probe the Panama Papers, rejecting Terms of Reference (ToRs) for being wide and open-ended and seeking a list of all those required to be investigated, the PBC’s Executive Committee held an emergent meeting.

— CJ urged to exercise suo-motu jurisdiction

Abdul Fayaz chaired the meeting of the Council members who included Muhammad Maqsood Buttar, Chaudhry Tahir Nasrullah Warraich, Chaudhry Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan, Mian Muhammad Shafiq Bhandara, Malik Ghulam Mustafa Kandwal and a special invitee Muhammad Shoaib Shaheen.

The PBC Executive Committee urged Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali to take cognisance of the matter under Article 184 (3) saying, “The PBC reiterates that the Honourable Supreme Court may take cognisance under Article 184 (3) in relation to the persons’ right at the top, ie, the Prime Minister and his children”.

While talking to media, Abdul Fayaz expressed reservations about the letter of the Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali to the government saying if the letter is followed in letter and spirit it will take a considerable long time, adding that there is no need of any legislation in view of Article 184 (3) of the Constitution.

“Therefore, the PBC once again calls upon the Chief Justice and His learned companion Judges to take suo motu cognisance of the matter, calling upon the Prime Minister and his children to provide a trail of money/funds and the reconciliation right from January 1, 1985 till date, co-relating the same with the respective declarations before the Election Commission of Pakistan and income/wealth tax authorities,” Abdul Fayaz expressed.

He said if in the history of Pakistan there is one case which deserves an action under Article 184 (3) it is the case of the Panama Leaks with regard to the Prime Minister and his children, and parliamentarian who fall within the ambit of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

Responding to a question Fayaz said if there is no suo motu taken by the apex court then the PBC would invoke court’s jurisdiction through a petition after 15 days.

Meanwhile, passing another resolution, the top body of lawyers said that participation of the PBC in appointments, confirmation, or non-confirmation of Judges of the superior judiciary, the proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and appointments, dismissal or disciplinary proceedings with regard to the sub-ordinate judiciary is scant.

“The PBC takes serious note of the fact that accountability of judges of the superior judiciary is not result oriented due to which the trust and confidence of the public at large specially the legal fraternity, is being hampered, thus lowering the dignity and prestige of the superior judiciary in the eyes of the public at large – it is a matter of grave concern for the PBC that due to inaction on the part of the SJC most of the references against judges of the superior courts filed with the SJC have become infructuous,” the resolution concluded.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2016