ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Monday declared that the Join Investigation Team report is just like any other investigation report and the court is not bound to accept it.

Appearing before the Panama judgment implementation bench, the defence requested the court to reject the report of the joint investigation team (JIT) that probed allegations of money laundering against the Sharif family.

The defence lawyer called the report ‘fatally deficient, incomplete and inadmissible’ and claimed the probe team exceeded the mandate it was given by the court.

The petitioners, one the other hand, argued that the case of disqualification of PM has been proved, and the evidence gained from abroad by the JIT has made it clear that the Sharif family submitted fake documents to the court.

But Khawaja Haris - representing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – said there was absolutely no incriminating evidence in the JIT report against Respondent No1 (PM). He also demanded making Volume 10 of the report public.

Lawyers of the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar submitted separate objections to the final report of the JIT.

Naeem Bukhari, representing PTI Chairman Imran Khan, President Awami Muslim League Sheikh Rashid and Jammat-e-Islami counsel Taufiq Asif concluded their arguments, but asked the court that they reserve the right of rebuttal.

The Courtroom No 2 was jam-packed. Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, PPP’s Latif Khosa, MQM leader Farooq Sattar, Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq, PML-N senior leader Raja Zafarul Haq and Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb were among the attendants.

The court hinted it may make Volume 10 of the report public. Heading the bench, Justice Ejaz Afzal said, “We will open Volume 10 of the report as we would like to see what is in it and the transparency also demands this.”

Justice Azmat said they will see if the document is acceptable, adding in some evidences some conditions are required to be fulfilled.

Naeem Bukhari referring to the findings of the report said the apex court is not bound by the JIT findings.

Justice Ejaz said parameters have been given in the Panama judgment. He therefore directed the PM’s counsel to confine arguments to those parameters in order to save court’s time.

The application submitted by defence says that the JIT report was a farce and the team has exceeded the mandate given to it by the apex court therefore it is a nullity in the eyes of the law.

The JIT also overstepped its jurisdiction in giving detailed findings on each of the 13 questions, referred to it by the august court, it said. The JIT was appointed only to collect evidence on each of the questions, and not to pronounce a judgment or give findings on the basis of the evidence, so collected.

The petition said that the four documents, styled by the JIT as “crucial documentary evidence” for the so-called findings “neither constitutes sufficient, nor primary, relevant or legally admissible evidence to prove any fact or the basis of the contents thereof, as wrongly presumed by the JIT”.

In this case it is evident from the record that not a single piece of oral or documentary evidence considered incriminating by the JIT was ever shown to any of the respondents so as to enable them to explain their position vis-à-vis such evidence or to rebut the same.

It said that the report is fatally deficient and incomplete, and, as such, cannot be made basis of any order against the respondents. The JIT was given 60 days for completing investigation therefore now it cannot be allowed to place any further document on the record.

The application stated that JIT member Bilal Rasul of SECP and his family have close association with PTI and PML-Q. Bilal’s wife was inter alia a nominee of PML-Q for women’s seat in the 2013.

It also contended that the nominee of ISI was not an officer of ISI at the time of his nomination rather he was a “source employee” under a contract which is not recognised as legal.

The court observed that the documents regarding the alleged company of Prime Minister Nawaz are not verified.

But PTI counsel claimed that the documents were received under Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) and have been verified.

Justice Ejaz Afzal said they would like to see who made the request for the documents of Nawaz Sharif’s ‘employment, contract and the aqama’ in Qatar.

The court directed Khwaja Haris to focus on the legal aspects of the case.

Justice Ejaz said there were statements of the witnesses under section 161 and 162 of CrPc, adding there are also provisions of Qanoon-e-Shahdat and the Constitution so the counsel should keep this aspect in his mind while arguing the case.

The PM’s counsel said the JIT report is the extension of the allegations levelled in the petitions therefore legally it has no worth. The report deals with the matters which have no relevance with the April 20 judgment in Panama case.

At the start of the hearing, Naeem Bukhari pointed out that after the verification of UAE law ministry it is established that Tariq Shafi affidavits, submitted before the apex court, were bogus and fake.

He said the letters from UAE confirmed that there was no 25 percent sales proceed of Gulf Steel Mills, which belies the Sharif family claim that this money was invested in the Al-Thani business.

The counsel argued that the letter of BVI Financial Investigative Agency regarding the correspondence between FIA director and Mossack Fonseca Director Nizbeth Nudro has confirmed that Maryam Safdar is the beneficial owner of Nielsen and Nescol companies.

He said according to the JIT report, the PM has an offshore company by the name FZE. The Mutual Legal Assistance from UAE has established and there was no doubt that the PM owns this company.

Taufiq Asif argued that the prima facie the case of disqualification of PM has been proved. He read a portion from the report wherein the JIT discussed the inconsistencies in the statements of the witnesses.

Justice Ijaz asked the JI counsel give arguments on the JIT report as the whole Pakistan knows about the JIT findings. Justice Ejaz said they wanted to hear arguments as they have read the JIT report. Taufiq Asif said he is only relying on the JIT findings.

Sheikh Rashid said the Sharif family’s wealth was accumulated during the period when they were in power. The AML chief lauded the efforts of JIT and said six super heroes of the JIT have completed their work in 60 days, which in ordinary circumstances could not be completed in one year.

He demanded that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should be disqualified, adding that if the court decides to send the case in NAB then JIT should also be constituted for that.

The application submitted by the defence stated that JIT members exceeded their jurisdiction and authority in obtaining documents from abroad by hiring private firms. By doing this, it wasted public time and money in rendering an incomplete, inconclusive and legally untenable and inherently defective report.

It said the JIT members have further sought to mislead the court in trying to conceal their illegalities in hiring private firms for collection of evidence and documents by including this illegal act under the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) request.

The MLA requests are addressed to Foreign State under NAB law and not to private firms or entities. The team hired UK based litigation firm, Quist London, which belongs to Akhtar Raja, who is a cousin of JIT head Wajid Zia and is reportedly a worker of PTI in London.

It is stated that none of these documents bear the attestation in accordance with law, nor are any of these documents in original, and most of them do not bear the signatures of any executants or scribe. Also, no statement of any witness who scribed, executed or witnessed any of these documents has been recorded by the JIT.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, one of the respondents in the Panama Papers case, submitted his reply — raising objections to accusations against him in the JIT's final report — to the Supreme Court on Monday.

The response, submitted by the minister's counsel, rejects the findings of the JIT report and claims the investigators worked beyond the mandate given to them by the Supreme Court.

“The JIT has not mentioned any, much less cogent, reason for the apparent transgression of its mandate. The findings merit rejection for this reason alone,” the response states.

Regarding allegations in the JIT report that the respondent [Ishaq Dar] “did not file income tax returns from 1981/82 to 2001/02”, the response states that “no evidence” was found “substantiating the said allegations”.

To allegations of tax evasion, the response claims that “the perverse conclusion” of tax evasion is “clear evidence of mala fide, and an apparent attempt to mislead the [Supreme Court] amounting to contempt.”

The JIT report claims an “exorbitant increase in assets since 2008/09 for which sources of income were not furnished”. Ishaq Dar invested GBP 5.5 million in BARAQ Holdings in UAE but the source of funds was not disclosed, the report claims. Out of these funds, GBP 4.97 million was given by him to his son, it adds.

The response addresses these claims by stating that the “said credit balance with BARAQ Holdings has been construed by JIT as an investment, whereas it was accumulated unpaid remuneration for professional advisory services.”

“GBP 4.97 million was ‘Qarz-e-Hasna/loan’ to his son, which was also duly declared,” the reply notes.

The JIT report stated that “dichotomies on mis-declaration of assets” was found which was tantamount to “hiding of assets and tax evasion”. The minister's response counters the finding by saying that there is “no basis” for the claims.

On the subject of alleged tax evasion in donations to charities, the reply claims that Dar has “never claimed any tax exemption on these donations”. The “mala-fide is self-evident. The allegation is false, unfounded and malicious,” the reply adds.

To the JIT finding that Dar “possesses assets disproportionate and beyond known sources of means,” the reply notes that “income tax returns for a period spanning 23 years have already been investigated by NAB” and no “irregularities of any kind” were revealed.

“Each and every rupee of his income and all his assets are duly explained and supported by documentary evidence, which has always been available with the concerned authorities,” claims the reply.

“The conclusions/findings have clearly been contrived/fabricated and have no factual or legal basis whatsoever,” it states.

The case was adjourned until today (Tuesday).

SC says not bound to accept JIT report.