Inquiry on Panama Papers: CJP likely to consider govt’s request for probe
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali is likely to consider a government request today (Monday) about constituting a commission on the Panama leaks upon his return from Turkey.
On April 23, the government wrote a letter to the apex court, requesting it to form a commission to probe the authenticity of the information contained in the Panama Papers. Since Chief Justice Jamali was out of the country and his senior deputy Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, who was the acting chief justice, deferred the reply on the request until the return of the CJP.
The government has already notified the terms of reference (ToRs) drafted by the law ministry for the proposed commission.
Opposition parties had rejected the government’s ToRs, accusing the government of not taking them into confidence before finalising the terms.
Although Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had offered to resign if any wrongdoing was proven against him, opposition parties insisted that the premier should leave his post on “moral grounds” until the commission finalised its findings.
Leaders of opposition parties are scheduled to meet today (Monday) to formulate a joint strategy against the government. They are demanding of the law ministry to amend the working terms in consultation with the opposition. However, the government appeared to be reluctant to demonstrate flexibility in this regard and rejected the opposition’s demand.
Legal experts believe that since the matter is sensitive in nature, the chief justice may summon a full court reference or at least get the input of senior judges on the issue.
Former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Kamran Murtaza told The Express Tribune that because of the sensitivity of the matter, the chief justice might call a full court reference or at least consult with senior judges.
According to Kamran, the prime minister had already announced that the Supreme Court might alter the ToRs, because, it “is (now) the discretion of the apex court (on) how to proceed (on the setting up) of the commission”.
SCBA president Ali Zafar believes the apex court should not accept the government’s ToRs. However, he said that the apex court “has no jurisdiction to make its own (ToRs) as it is the law ministry’s job”.
According to Ali Zafar, if the apex court tried to set the ToRs, it would create a bad impression because the opposition parties were also drafting their own ToRs, which are likely to be discussed in the meeting.
Incidentally, the SCBA had also rejected the government’s ToRs, terming their scope limited. The bar association pointed out that the government had not empowered the commission to collect relevant evidence abroad.