Petitioners plead disqualification of PM; we are not bound JIT report: SC

 
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ISLAMABAD JULY 17 (TNS):  Adjourning hearing of the Panama case until tomorrow, the Supreme Court said on Monday that all the statements given before JIT will be examined in the light of Pakistan Penal Code i.e. within the parameters of the law.

“The whole of Pakistan has known the JIT findings; we are not bound by them. Why we should follow them,” it said.

Supreme Court of Pakistan began hearing of the Panama Papers case following the submission of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report on Monday. The special three-member implementation bench began proceedings of the high-profile case a little after 9:30am.

Counsels for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid presented their arguments during Monday’s proceedings.

PTI counsel Naeem Bukhari pleaded with the apex court to summon Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for cross examination, disqualify him from Parliament and send cases against him and his family to an accountability court.

The counsel for JI argued that the premier did not speak the truth during his speech in Parliament.

Sheikh Rashid, presenting his arguments, said the nation was embarrassed to find out its prime minister is a paid employer of another company.

During proceedings, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who heads the bench, wondered if the JIT can trust the veracity of the documents while Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked the JI counsel to inform the bench to what extent could it implement the JIT’s findings and use its authority.

Prior to the start of the proceedings, the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar submitted their responses on the JIT report.

They rejected the JIT report and stated that the investigators worked beyond their original mandate.

In his initial arguments, Bukhari said the Sharif family has failed to prove their statements regarding the Gulf Steel Mills in Dubai.

The Gulf Steel Mills was not sold for 33 million Dirhams nor was the payment of 12 million Dirhams to Qatar’s Al-Thani family proved by the respondents, he said.

He added that the UAE justice ministry did not verify the April 14, 1980 transaction of Gulf Steel Mills.

Bukhari also reiterated several other points raised by the investigators in their final report.

In between the PTI counsel’s statements, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who heads the bench, said as Shehbaz Sharif appeared in front of the JIT as a witness, his statement can only be used to identify discrepancies.

Terming the Qatari letter a concocted tale, Bukhari said the London properties have been in possession of the Sharif family since day one. He informed that the JIT was given documents from a respondent. When Justice Ijazul Ahsan inquired whether they are certified, the PTI counsel replied in the negative.

Taking his arguments further, Bukhari said the JIT wrote four letters to the Qatari prince to record his statement but the royal family member said he was not willing to accept the jurisdiction of Pakistani law. “Even the JIT stated in its report that it is not necessary to record his statement,” he said further.

Bukhari said the Nawaz Sharif is the chairman of the board of FZE Capital, adding that his signatures are on documents related to the company. Justice Saeed asked the PTI counsel if they documents were brought to Pakistan through mutual legal assistance or via sources. Bukhari replied that the JIT can answer that query.

Justice Ijaz asked if the premier received a salary for his services. “According to the records he received remuneration throughout but did not got a monthly salary,” he observed further.

The court then took a brief recess. Once the hearing resumed, Bukhari said there’s a clear difference in the statements of the prime minister’s son Hasan and Hussain.

The PTI counsel said the Sharif family owns assets beyond their means — the conclusion reached by the JIT in its final report.

In his comments, Justice Ejaz wondered if the JIT can trust the veracity of the documents delivered to it without knowing their source.

Jamaat-e-Islami’s counsel Taufeeq Asif said the premier did not speak the truth during his speech in Parliament. He said his client completely agrees with the JIT report.

In response, Justice Ejaz said they have read the report too. Justice Ijaz observed that you [counsel] have to tell us why we should adhere to the JIT’s findings.

“The entire country knows the JIT’s findings…we are not bound by them,” he commented further.

You [counsel] have to inform us to what extent can we implement the JIT’s findings and use our authority, stated Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed.

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