LAHORE: The Lahore High Court today dismissed application of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf seeking constitution of larger bench on petitions filed against PM, his family members and other politicians allegedly involved in offshore companies/businesses.

 Justice Shahid Waheed of the LHC passed the order holding that this miscellaneous application was not maintainable as the government yet to come up with its reply in the main petition.

Tahir Nawaz Sindh of PTI lawyers’ wing had filed the application along with his main petition. He had stated that a larger bench should be constituted as the matter of Panama leaks was of great significance.

The petitioners, in their main petitions, had challenged the eligibility of the PM and other politicians.  They said the Panama leaks had exposed PM and his family members as well as other politicians for their alleged role in shifting public money abroad and establishing offshore businesses in order to avoid taxes. He said he did not show his assets at the time of election which was tantamount to violation of the Constitution.

The petitioners named PM Nawaz Sharif, his two sons Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, daughter Maryam Nawaz, former interior minister Rehman Malik, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as respondents in the petition.

They had said that several politicians were involved in transferring public money abroad and establishing offshore companies. “Public money was invested in offshore companies. The money was taken abroad through illegal means,” they said.

They also said the politicians had concealed the facts from the public and had not disclosed the investments while filing nomination for elections. After Hussain Nawaz’s admission about owning companies outside Pakistan, the PM should be declared ineligible to hold any public office, they stated. The petitioners said Hussain Nawaz had been a minor when the offshore companies were purchased in 1993 and 1994.  They said the PM did not declare his assets.  He concealed facts from the public and thus, he cannot be a member of the National Assembly,” they said.

Sindhu requested the court to order the NAB to hold an inquiry into the claims. He also requested the court to direct the ECP to start an inquiry against the PM. The petitioner asked the court to stop the PM’s sons and daughter from contesting elections.

On the basis of these serious allegations, the petitioner requested the court to declare PM as disqualified and restrain his family members from contesting elections and order them to bring money back to Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Justice Shahid Waheed of the LHC gave another chance to federal and provincial government in petition filed by PTI Opposition leader in Punjab Assembly challenging non-functioning of Public Account Committees.  The court put off further hearing until May 23.  It is almost third time that the respondents did not come with reply before the court.

Opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed had filed the petition through his counsel Advocate Sheraz Zaka and submitted that the audit reports of district governments of the Punjab had never been presented to the PAC nor laid before the house. He submitted that the auditor general of Pakistan wrote a letter to governor, Punjab On September 7, 2012 and reminded him to fulfill his statutory obligations by placing audit reports of district governments before the committee of the Punjab Assembly as well as before the house.

He said that this letter was also forwarded to chief minister but it was not implemented so far. He said that the office of the auditor general also wrote to secretary of finance on June 4, 2014 to present the audit reports on the accounts of the district governments for the financial years 2001-2002 to 2012-2013 before the PAC but all in vain.
He said that the PAC was told in a meeting on September 15, 2015 that the audit reports of the district governments had been received from governor and submitted to the chief minister but the reports had not been placed before the committee so far. He asserted that according to section 108 of Punjab Local Government Act, 2013 the audit reports of the auditor general shall be considered by the PAC.

He submitted that aid the PAC was the main instrument of parliamentary system and its strengthening was vital to ensure accountability of public funds and good governance, which would eventually eliminate corruption from the public sector. He requested to direct the respondents to place the audit reports of the district governments 2001-2002 to 2014-2015 before the PAC as well as Punjab Assembly.