ISLAMABAD - With the conclusion of defence counsels’ arguments, the case now has entered into a final round, which would begin from next week and hopefully would wind up by February 24.

The five-judge bench, which has been hearing the case since January 4, is examining all the possible aspects before writing judgment.

There is a division in the bench as two of its members believe that principle of law and the jurisprudence developed over the ages should be followed, while others have opinion that the apex court under Article 184 (3) of Constitution has vast power.

The contradiction between the statement of Prime Minister and the interviews of his children and PM’s wife created doubts in the mind of judges. The court is looking into the case from all aspects, therefore, it has spent almost five weeks. It might constitute a commission in view of the insufficient and unauthentic documents.

The court is also mindful that as there is no appeal against the apex court judgment and review against its judgment is also very limited.

Justice Khosa and Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan are still not satisfied with the documents submitted by the respondent about setting up mills in Dubai and Jeddah and transferring of money to UK to purchase the flats. Justice Khosa termed it gamble while Justice Ejaz Afzal called it a strategy.

The court feels that will is missing on both sides to find out the truth as political rivalry matters here rather than to eliminate corruption. Jamaat Islami, which earlier had filed the petition for taking action against all those whose names appeared in the Panama Leaks, later changed its petition and focused on the Prime Minister’s disqualification.

When Salman Akram Raja during the hearing disclosed that the PTI wanted to file another Civil Miscellaneous Application (CMA), Justice Azmat Saeed remarked it appears the other side does not want that the case is concluded. Keeping in view of the court’s observation, the PTI deferred filing of the CMA with new evidence.

Salman Akram referred the judgments of Asghar Khan, Memo Commission, Arsalan Iftikhar, urging the court that without proper investigation it should not give finding against the Prime Minister and his children. This is not the forum of criminal culpability. It was also recommended by the counsel to activate the statutory bodies. If the state institutions are not performing duties then the court could monitor the investigation process as conducted in the NICL and other mega corruption cases, he contended.

Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf Imran Khan and Chief Awami Muslim League Sheikh Rashid wanted that this bench pass the verdict. Therefore, they seemed disturbed when Salman Akram Raja proposed that if the court is not satisfied with their stand then it should constitute a commission for thorough inquiry. Imran Khan and Jehangir Tareen were seemingly perturbed and discussed this issue with Fawad Chaudhry during the hearing.  After the break, one of the PTI counsels shared a hand written draft, might be an application for filing in court, with both of them.

The counsel of Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz has concluded the arguments. To further strengthen his case, the counsel filed more documents to establish Hussain Nawaz is the beneficial owner of London flats while Mariam Safdar is only the trustee. The fresh documents included trust deed executed between Mariam Safdar and Hussain Nawaz.

Al-Thani family as per the will of Mian Muahmmad Sharif handed over bearer certificates to Hussain Nawaz in January 2006 who in February 2006 executed the trust deed with his sister and in that period the bearer certificates remained in the possession of Mariam Safdar and therefore she was beneficial owner of London flats for five months. When the policy was changed therefore in July 2006 the shares were registered in the name of Hussain Nawaz.

The bench has given direction to chairmen National Accountability Bureau and Federal Board of Revenue to appear in person to answer the court’s queries. The NAB has been asked to submit high court judgment of 1999 where the challan against the Sharif family was quashed and the judgment of referee judge of Lahore High Court of 2014, wherein the NAB reference was rejected. The NAB was ordered to come prepare on these issues and the Panama Leaks.

The courtroom was packed with the PTI and PML-N leaders and supporters, journalists and over two dozen security officials. The PTI female supporters had snack in the courtroom, which is against the decorum of the court. The PML-N ministers, who after the proceeding daily hold press conference, instead of hearing the case kept on chatting with each other, without caring that their approach disturbs the beat reporters, who were taking notes.

 

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 17-Feb-2017 here.