Panamagate case: SC urges parties to stop fighting it out on media
“A lawmaker can only be disqualified on the basis of ‘Black Letter Law’ and not on people’s expectations,” observed Justice Asif Saeed Khosa on Monday, who is heading the SC’s five-judge larger bench hearing a slew of petitions filed against the Sharif family in the Panama Papers scandal.
However, he said, the court could pass any judgment in the case in interest of justice under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution. “We are very much conscious in exercising our jurisdiction as we know what can be done and what should be done in this matter.”
Justice Khosa urged political parties that instead of fighting it out on the media, they should wait for the court’s verdict in the case, adding that a lot has already been done on the roads. He also remarked that the premier’s children had no immunity or privilege under the Constitution.
On the 13th hearing of the case, Jamaat-e-Islami’s counsel Taufiq Asif resumed his arguments but he was unable to give new facts or evidence to establish his case.
Sources told The Express Tribune that Asif is close to former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who has assisted the JI lawyer in preparation of the case. However, despite having legal assistance from the former CJP, the JI attorney failed to build his case.
The bench also ignored his plea to summon the PM’s verified speech from parliament. The court told him that no one has disputed the contents of the PM speech which is part of its record.
When the JI’s counsel stated that the PM had also provided record of money trail of his family’s London properties to the National Assembly Speaker, the bench said the record had also been provided to it.
Justice Gulzar Ahmad told the counsel that the Sharif family gave documentary evidences to establish their money trail to acquire their London flats. However, he said, if they failed to provide anything relevant then they might face legal repercussions in this regard.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan questioned if the SC was investigating into the PM Sharif’s family’s London properties and if it could investigate by fishing out evidences. “We are not investigators,” he reiterated.
When the counsel started his arguments on the SC’s jurisdiction under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh observed that the court has already invoked the jurisdiction in Panama Papers case. “Now the issue is as to what will be scope of this jurisdiction.”
He also remarked that in inquisitorial proceedings the onus of proof is not only on the shoulder of Sharif family. He told Asif that he should have set the principle, wherein he should have proved the misstatement on the basis of the PM’s nomination paper.
When Taufiq Asif referred to Article 19-A of the Constitution, which ensures the right to information, the judge questioned if the right to information could be used against individuals. The counsel replied that the individual is the chief executive of the country (PM) therefore it is applicable in this matter.
Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan asked the JI’s counsel to establish the PM’s link with the Panamagate case.
He further asked what should be the mode of inquisitorial proceedings in this matter. However, Taufiq Asif could not give satisfactory reply on the judges’ queries. He said the PM’s speech in parliament is an admission, which is also defined in Article 30 of Qanoon-i-Shahadat.
He said everyone should be treated equally under Article 25 of the Constitution. “If parliamentarians are disqualified in dual nationalities and fake degrees cases then the same treatment should be meted out to the PM as well,” he said.
Asif claimed that the PM had presented himself for accountability and therefore the onus of proof was on his shoulder under Article 119 of Qanoon-i-Shahadat. “The PM has also violated his oath in this matter,” he said. The counsel will continue his arguments today (Tuesday).