SC explains its approach to Panamagate case

-File photo

-File photo

Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa on Monday observed that honesty in parliament, apex court, and with the nation is more important than the issue of the Sharif family’s ownership of the Mayfair properties in London.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Awami Muslim League (AML) and a lawyer, Tariq Asad, had filed pleas, seeking an investigation into the alleged offences in the matter.

Heading a 5-member bench in response to the pleas, Justice Khosa observed that the Supreme Court has to get to the truth through first determining the facts and then applying the law in the matter.

“We know the gravity of the issue; we have to be very careful because this case is one of its own kind; we don’t want to rush it; we know the gravity of the declaration of the court; we have to lay down a precedent,” Justice Khosa observed while adjourning the hearing of the matter till Tuesday (today).

Appearing before the bench on Monday, PTI counsel Syed Naeem Bokhari contended that Hussain Nawaz had gifted Rs 810 million to his father Nawaz Sharif on which no tax was paid.

Bokhari added that Hussain Nawaz’s tax number became dysfunctional after he moved abroad, prompting a member of the bench, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh, to ask him to read aloud Section 139(3) of the Income Tax Ordinance; and the Justice Sheikh further asked Bokhari under which law or judgement, past and closed transactions can be opened.

“We have asked 16 questions but you are not responding to even a single question and even raising more questions,” Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh told the PTI counsel.

The bench asked Bokhari to prove that the Mayfair properties in London were owned by the Sharif family in 1993, while Bokhari argued that the Qatari Prince’s letter did not exist before November last as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members never mentioned it in any of their public speeches or interviews.

When Bokhari questioned the Trust Deed between Maryam Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz, a member of the bench, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, observed that the genuineness of the deed is not in dispute to which Bokhari abruptly responded, “I am disputing the content of this deed.” He prompted Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh to ask: “Is it your point that the document (Trust Deed) has been crafted only for the litigation purpose?”

Justice Sheikh further remarked that the Mayfair properties were not mortgaged but attached in the matter of Al-Towfeek Investment Fund with respect to the loan procured by Hudabiya Paper Mills, adding that the question would arise as to where the money for settling the loan came from.

Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa observed that it would be relevant to determine whether the Qatari Prince’s letter was created in 2006; especially given that neither Maryam Nawaz nor brother Hussain Nawaz made mention of this letter in 2011. Mossack Fonseca too didn’t say anything.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan asked insofar as the mentioning of this letter is concerned how the trust deed was created when the shares were not transferred. He also asked: “Does that deed stipulate that the shares were transferred from somewhere in Qatar?” Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh repeatedly observed if the Qatari Prince’s letter is not part of the adjudication then there would be a vacuum in the proceedings.

Justice Khosa said if the court directs the Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file an appeal in the Lahore High Court’s verdict of 2014 on Ishaq Dar’s affidavit which disclosed how the money was laundered and fictitious accounts were created in the Hudabiya Paper Mills case then “we will not give a decision until NAB process is completed.”

Justice Khosa asked Bokhari to “sleep over it and tell us your decision”; to which Bokhari submitted that on the next date of hearing he will respond to the court on the issue.

Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh observed that not only have the two parties failed to respond to a number of court queries, they have also failed to submit relevant documents before the court.

Justice Sheikh remarked, “Whoever has provided a document would be responsible for justifying it and if someone has not provided a relevant document then one will face legal consequences.”

Addressing Bokhari, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh observed, “Counsel, this is a journey where we together will ascertain the truth in the matter.” The hearing of matter was adjourned till Tuesday (today).

-Business Recorder