ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that the non-declaration of assets case against PTI Chairman Imran Khan was “distinguishable” from the Panama Papers case against Nawaz Sharif.

The court is still looking for the element of dishonesty though the PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi’s counsel explained that Imran Khan did not declare UK Pound 100,000 lying in the Niazi Service Limited (NSL) bank account in his statement of assets and liabilities filed in the Election Commission of Pakistan for 2013 elections.

Akram Sheikh, the counsel of Hanif Abbasi, and Naeem Bukhari, representing Imran Khan, completed their arguments but a three-judge bench neither reserved nor announced the judgment in the PTI chief’s case.

However, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, heading the bench, said: “They have not reserved the judgment because if later on any question comes to their mind then they can [ask] from the counsels.”

The bench was hearing Hanif Abbasi’s petition against Imran Khan and Jahangir Tareen for having offshore companies.

Justice Umar Atta Bandial inquired where was the dishonesty, if Imran did not declare money lying in the NSL account in the nomination form.

Sheikh questioned was it not dishonesty not to declare an asset in the statement, filed before the ECP.

He said: “The bench members have reached to the core of the case. If intention is relevant in one court and the other court say it is not then this case is in your hand.”

“The ‘scale of justice’ is in your hand. The whole world is watching,” the counsel added.

The chief justice said: “This case is distinguishable from CP 29/16 [Panama case against the ex-PM Nawaz Sharif and his family].”

Sheikh argued that the ground sought for disqualification was in the NAB court, adding the former prime minister was disqualified for not disclosing salary receivable from son in his nomination papers.

He said that this court had to keep in mind the judgment of five-member bench, which was unanimous.

At that point, Justice Bandial asked Sheikh why he did not see the judgment of Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa.

The counsel replied that his was not the judgment but an opinion, adding a judgment was the order of the court.

He said that the loan whether taken from son, bank or wife had to be declared in the statement of assets and liability.

Sheikh said that this was the 38th hearing of the cases against Imran Khan.

The court questioned if Imran Khan did not declare the money lying in the NSL Bank Account in his 2002 nomination paper then could he be disqualified now?

Referring to the judgment in Allah Dino case, Sheikh said that in that case the parliamentarian was disqualified after 2013 general election, on the grounds that he had mis-declared in his nomination papers filed in 2002.

The counsel contended that Imran Khan hid behind an offshore company, the NSL to avoid taxes in the UK and in Pakistan hid behind his wife to avoid paying taxes.

After the sale of the UK flat, which was the only asset of the NSL, Imran Khan returned UK Pound 564,000 to Jemima Khan and gave UK Pound 38,000 to Tahir Nawaz, a chartered accountant, and kept remaining amount that is the UK Pound 100,000 in the NSL bank account.

However, he did not declare UK Pound 100,000 in the statement of assets and liabilities of 2003, filed in the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Sheikh said that the NSL, being a functioning company, was itself an asset, distinct and independent of the flat.

The NSL remained in operation till 2015, but Imran Khan failed to disclose the NSL in his nomination form of 2002.

He said that the formal shareholders were acting as trustees for Imran Khan and they did not hold the corporate structure for their own beneficial interest.

Sheikh expressed doubts about the documents submitted by Naeem Bukhari on September 29, to establish money trail regarding funds to purchase the London apartment.

He said that the documents could not be relied upon as those were not certified and even the signatures of Imran Khan on the two letters did not match.

The chief justice told Bukhari, who came 45 minutes late to the proceedings, that Akram Sheikh had raised serious questions.

Sheikh said that his case before the court was proved and it was incontrovertible.

I want relief on the prayer I have made in the petition, he said.

Sheikh said that it was admitted that the funds remitted by Jemima Khan was a loan to Imran Khan.

The factum of loan also admitted in an affidavit. However, the loan is not mentioned in the section of liabilities in the nomination form.

He said that the section was not limited to bank loans, but also covered a diverse range of categories.

Sheikh said that as it was claimed by Imran Khan’s counsel that the funds were not his asset as it was not accessible to him, and were reserved/withheld by the administration of the NSL to meet its expenses such as solicitor’s fee, cost of litigation, filing of returns etc., was totally absurd and illogical.

He said that Imran Khan was not only exercising control over the said funds, but the funds were being utilised to secure his beneficial interests such as payment of his debt to Jemima Khan, and meeting the expense of litigation of his London flat etc.

Sheikh said that Imran Khan in his earlier reply (CMA 7925/2016), claimed that after the sale of the London flat, the NSL existed on paper only.

However, his supplementary statement (CMA 3800), reflects an amount of GBP 75,000 lying in the NSL account in 2004.

Sheikh said that Imran Khan presented varying stances before the apex court during the course of the proceedings, which were not only self-contradictory but were also belied by the record presented by the respondent himself.

Khan’s statement once again fall within mischief of Section 12(2)(f) of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1976, and he was not honest in terms of Sec 99(f) of Representation of Peoples Act, 1976 and Article 62(1)(f).

The facts relating to the Bani Gala land clearly show that Imran Khan was pursuing a deliberate plan to ensure that he could obtain the property Benami and that there should be no public record of him acquiring the property directly in his own name in the revenue records.

Similarly, all payments were purportedly made through Rashid Ali Khan so that there should be no record of payments being made by Imran.

The court observed that this was a matter between a wife and husband.

Sheikh contended that it was not a matter between wife and husband but a money matter between two parties.

Justice Bandial said that when Imran Khan declared the land in Jemima Khan’s name instead of as loan taken from former wife then it was not a big issue.

He said that the PTI chief showed to us the bank transaction from where the money had come.

The PML-N leader’s counsel said that the intention was made redundant by the five-member bench in the Panama Papers case.

Justice Bandial asked him to read the judgment and then comment on it as mental state of person was not discussed in the judgment.

The PML-N leader’s counsel contended that it was an admitted fact that Imran Khan paid Rs2,970,000 as an instalment to purchase a luxury apartment in M/S Grand Hyatt, located at One Constitutional Avenue, Islamabad in 2014.

Imran Khan has also admitted that he did not declare the said payment in his statement of assets and liabilities for June 2014 filed before the ECP.

He said that in view of Imran’s own admission his statement of assets and liabilities before the ECP in 2014 prima facie contradicts with this own wealth statement filed before the FBR for the same year, thus amounting to a fatal mis-declaration before the ECP.

The case was adjourned till Friday.