ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned hearing of a case regarding offshore companies of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan till October 4 (Wednesday).
A three-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab heard the case filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi seeking disqualification of the PTI chairman for concealing assets before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), ownership of an offshore company and running party affairs through foreign funding.
During the course of proceedings, the petitioner’s counsel Akram Sheikh questioned the validity of documents submitted by Imran’s lawyer Naeem Bokhari regarding the transfer of funds for the purchase of Bani Gala property.
He said the addresses on the documents submitted by Bokhari did not match, claiming that they were not verified.
Upon this the chief justice asked if the documents were not verified then what should be done. Akram Sheikh also questioned the payment of pound 79,000 to the architect of Bani Gala property.
The PTI chief had not informed the court as to where from the money was received for purchase of the land and his counsel had also not submitted any documents in that regard, he added.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that the counsel (Akram Sheikh) was assigning the role of an accountant to the court and he should limit his arguments to the case.
Akram Sheikh said Imran Khan had adopted the stance that the Bani Gala property was bought from the proceeds of the sale of his London flat. He said Imran had no source of income in Pakistan and he (Imran) had also accepted that his company Niazi Services Limited remained functional till 2013.
The chief justice remarked that it was yet to verified that as to where from the money for purchase of Imran’s London flat had come.
Akram Sheikh also maintained that the amount transferred to Jemima by Imran was larger than the loan he owed her.
If the amount in the bank account was Rs 100,000 and the expenses were Rs 150,000, then there was a need for clarity, he explained his argument.
The chief justice observed that the prosecution was raising highly important questions.
Akram Sheikh said though he had not raised the question in the court yet the petitioner had wondered why the amount was transferred to Jemima through Imran’s cousin Rashid Khan. Imran Khan had accepted that he had taken a loan from his former wife but had not disclosed it before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), he added.
As the bench mulled over how transactions between a husband and a wife should be treated, Akram Sheikh maintained that the court had already set a precedent by dismissing the review petitions of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Panama Papers case.
He said whether it was a father and his son or a husband and his wife, the court had established a precedent. It it were proven that Jemima’s name was written in the documents regarding the Bani Gala property, he would leave the court room, he added.
He argued that whether it was a loan or gift from his wife Imran should have disclosed it.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that the first thing to see as to where from the money for the Bani Gala property came from.
Naeem Bokhari, counsel for the PTI chief, said his client had received a few days back the confirmation from the bank that the SC had sought, verifying that the sum had been transferred to Jemima’s account.
The chief justice pointed out that Imran had not declared the Bani Gala property in his nomination papers. It was required of him to declare the gift given to him by his wife, he added.
He inquired details regarding the remaining 99,000 pounds in the bank account of Niazi Services Ltd.
He remarked that details of the company’s bank account provided by the defence earlier had shown the balance to be zero. Later, however, the 99,000 pounds were shown. “We will have to see details regarding the sum,” said the chief justice. “We are reviewing the integrity of a person.”
Akram Shiekh argued that if a loan was pending on Imran in 2002, it was necessary for him to declare it. Maintaining that if Imran had taken a loan from his wife, he should have declared it in his nomination papers, the counsel read out a paragraph from the SC’s Panama Papers verdict.
The paragraph pertained to Capital FZE, the Dubai-based company owned by Nawaz’s son Hussain, for which the former premier served as a chairman.
The salary from his position had not been declared in Nawaz’s nomination papers and therefore, he was disqualified.
At the end of the hearing, the chief justice clarified that a verdict had not been reserved in the case and that further documents were to be presented before the court.—APP