PM’s children asked to file replies by November 7

Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif on Thursday denied ownership of any offshore company and claimed that he never declared any of his children, including Maryam Nawaz, his dependent.  

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and three other petitioners had invoked the Supreme Court jurisdiction, seeking disqualification of the Premier from Parliament for not declaring the offshore assets of his dependants while filing tax returns and submitting the statement of assets and liabilities with the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Filing a concise statement before a 5-member larger bench led by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali on behalf of Mian Nawaz Sharif, former Attorney General for Pakistan Salman Aslam Butt submitted that his client denies ownership of any offshore company.

From the outset of hearing, Salman Aslam Butt filed concise statements in pursuance of the court’s earlier directives on behalf of four respondents including Mian Nawaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Captain Muhammad Safdar (retd) and Federal Secretary Interior.

Responding to a court’s query, Butt said he still has to consult with Maryam, Hussain and Hassan Nawaz before filing statements on their behalf and sought more time to comply with court’s orders in the matter.

The court asked Butt to give a reason for non-compliance to which Salman Aslam Butt pleaded that Maryam Nawaz is not a dependent of his client; he added that the matter of maintainability of the petitions still needs to be decided.

Deciding the matter of maintainability of the petitions subsequent to consulting all the parties to the case, the court said these would be heard under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution.

The court also dismissed the plea of journalist Asad Kharal on grounds that he has no locus standi and the petition of Tariq Khokhar was also dismissed on grounds that he was absent.

Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali observed that the court intends to decide the matter expeditiously and would also determine as to how the proceedings of the current matter would be regulated.

He further said a single-member commission led by a serving judge of the apex court will have all the powers and he would be appointed once the parties to the case file their Terms of Reference (TORs) in the matter; and further stated that the commission would be appointed during the course of proceedings and subsequent to receiving a response from Maryam Nawaz, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz.

Butt pleaded that the Prime Minister was not the legal or beneficial owner of any offshore property, including Flats No 16, 16A, 17, 17A, situated at Avenfield House, Park Lane, London (the properties) that are the subject matter of the Panama papers.

He further said that Mian Nawaz Sharif’s name did not appear in the Panama Papers nor were any accusations made against him in the said papers.

“None of the children of Prime Minister is his dependants nor any of them has been declared as his dependent in tax returns as well as the wealth statement filed in accordance with the provisions of the applicable laws while the nomination forms for the general elections 2013 and the statement of assets and liabilities filed with the Election Commission of Pakistan in accordance with the provisions of the applicable law,” Butt said.

He apprised the bench that his client is a regular taxpayer and files tax returns as well as the wealth statement in accordance with the provisions of the applicable laws, adding that the Prime Minister fulfils the requirements of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution and is fully compliant with his obligation of declaration of assets and liabilities under the provisions of Representation of People Act, 1976 and other applicable laws.

Seeking dismissal of the PTI’s and other petitions in the matter, Butt contended that all the pleas have no merit as they are based on false and incorrect allegations.

Responding to the request of more time for filing concise statements on behalf of the premier’s children Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa remarked that as per law when the respondents fail to file replies it means they have accepted the allegations levelled against them in a case.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa also asked Butt as to whether he can give a written statement that Maryam Nawaz is not under the guardianship of his client.

During the course of the hearing, the Chief Justice remarked that the media is focusing on these proceedings and if the court adjourns the case then the media may conclude that the state has been given time. He however categorically stated that the court will not drag the instant matter.

The Chief Justice said the court would give a last chance to the children of the Prime Minister to submit their replies by November 7 saying that no further adjournment would be granted in the matter in hand.

Seeking consent of the parties to the case, the Chief Justice observed that it would be better to appoint a commission after the replies of Maryam Nawaz, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz have been submitted.

Hamid Khan, the counsel for PTI, submitted that the respondents including the children of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, should have complied with court’s directives and submitted their replies and concise statements. However, he left the matter of granting more time to court’s discretion.

While issuing directives to all the parties to the case to submit respective ToRs during the course of day, Chief Justice Jamali made it clear that the court would not be bound to the ToRs provided by the parties and it would be for the bench to fix the terms of reference for the commission.

Later, issuing directives to Maryam Nawaz, Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz to submit their replies, the court adjourned the hearing of the matter till Nov 7.

-Business Recorder