ISLAMABAD   -  The Supreme Court on Monday ordered for fixing, in the open court, office objections on a plea of an internal firm seeking a copy of Volume-X of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) for a final decision of a lawsuit in a London Arbitration Court pertaining to damages issues against the National Accountability Bureau.

The top court will hear the office objections on the petition of international firm M/s Broadsheet LLC, which has filed a lawsuit in the London arbitration court against the NAB for ‘backtracking’ on its international commitments against the services it provided back in 2000, and has sought a copy of Panama Papers JIT Volume-X so that it could furnish it in the arbitration court for the final adjudication of the quantum of damages against the NAB.

“The copy (Vol.10) sought from this honourable court will help arbitrate the quantum of damages issues pending in the arbitration, which is necessitated in the interest of justice in furtherance of the international commitments of NAB,” the instant application moved to the top court said.

According to sources, the petition will be taken up in the coming week commencing from July 20.

A one-judge bench comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, who was one of the members of the larger-bench that heard the Panama Papers case against the Sharif family, took up the application in his chamber, whereas advocate Latif Khosa represented the international firm.

According to the sources, the decision to hear the office objections in the open court came after Justice Saeed made the observation that earlier a three-member bench had directed against making the JIT Volume-X public.

The judge further observed that the matter, whether or not the Volume-X should be provided to the firm, will also be decided by the Bench.

Justice Saeed further observed that the opinion of the Attorney General for Pakistan and the NAB was also required vis-à-vis providing a copy of the JIT Volume X.  M/s Broadhseet LLC began working in the year 2000 for and on behalf of the government of Pakistan and the NAB for detecting and recovering hidden and unlawfully obtained assets by high ranking Pakistanis abroad.

However, a dispute in respect to the agreement between the parties (the firm, NAB and government of Pakistan) arose and the issue was referred to arbitration in London and Pakistan has been facing a lawsuit of $500 million in damages.

The litigation before the sole Arbitrator, Sir Anthony Evans, resulted in an interim award in terms of liability and the award is enforceable in Pakistan under Section 4 & 6 of the Recognition and  Enforcement (Arbitration Agreements and Foreign Arbitral Awards) 2011.

However, the final award on the ‘quantum of damages’ is awaited which would be awarded upon submission of the missing information to be made available to arbitrator (by the firm). The next hearing of the arbitration is scheduled for July 16 in London.

“If the Volume-10 is released to the petitioner (M/s Broadsheet LLC), the same public policy could be put to use other than the prosecutorial one. It will form a cause of action to recover the assets not only disclosed therein but also the ones beyond this part of the JIT report and will help encourage investors engaged by the government of Pakistan /NAB.  Such an outcome would benefit the people and public interests of the republic,” the application said.

The application contended that “the covenants of the assets recovery agreement, as directed by Sir Anthony Evans, require all the parties to get a copy of Volume-10 to be put into recovery operations as a milestone and guidepost”.

“Through the release sought, this court will aid in honouring an international commitment made by the government of Pakistan/NAB, and thereby aid in meeting the ends of justice,” it added.

The application contended that “the high State functionaries have been appearing in the arbitration proceedings in London and only the certified copies of Volume-10 of JIT’s report required to be produced for the logical conclusion”.

“Therefore, the release of the same will meet the ends of justice whereas the non-release will create complications towards the fulfillment of international obligations by the state of Pakistan.”

“It is significant to state herein that amongst the delineated persons/families, whose assets and properties illegally stashed inside and outside Pakistan be dug out and unearthed, Mian Nawaz Sharif figures are at the top of the list,” the application added.

 

SYED SABEEHUL HUSSNAIN