LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday dismissed the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s plea seeking disqualification of Punjab’s chief minister Shehbaz Sharif over corruption charges.

Justice Shahid Karim held that the petition was not maintainable, and observed that the petitioner may approach the relevant forum.

The petition was argued by senior lawyer Babar Awan, who had recently quit the PPP and joined hands with Imran Khan.

As the proceedings commenced, Justice Karim asked the PTI’s counsel to explain whether any court had declared the Panama JIT’s report effective or whether the LHC had not already dismissed the petition on the grounds of personal business. At this, Mr. Awan said that the court was right in its observation but Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif concealed the facts in his nomination papers.

He said JIT’s report had exposed these facts while his political influence as Punjab Chief Minister over establishment and relocation of sugar mills was quite clear. Thereore, he pleaded the court that Shehbaz Sharif should be declared as disqualified.

Earlier, Imran Khan made Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Election Commission of Pakistan as parties in the case alleging that Shehbaz Sharif took oath as member of the provincial legislative assembly and head of the cabinet but he failed to fulfill his oath.

He had relied upon Panama JIT’s report against the ruling family also involving Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and alleged that he had misused his powers as Punjab Chief Minister for establishing and relocating of selective sugar mills in South Punjab.

Khan argued that “The oath administered by respondent No 1 (Shehbaz Sharif), enjoins upon him to be sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and amen. However, Mr. Shehbaz Sharif respondent did vilate his oath and preferred his personal interest on national interest by abuse of his influence and through his official conduct a well as by misuse of his official decisions. Therefore, Mr. Shahbaz Sharif respondent No 1 is disqualified to hold the office of Chief Minister of Punjab as well as the seat of Member of Provincial Assembly, interalia, in terms of crystal clear provision of Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973,”.

He mentioned his party leader Jahangir Khan Tareen’s petition against the Punjab government over allowing shifting and relocation of certain sugar mills and relied upon LHC’s an observation in that case that the government made a policy to benefit selected sugar mills.

 Khan alleged that Shehbaz Sharif misused his powers as being Chief Minister by allowing  his relatives and others to establish new sugar mills as well as their relocation/shifting in South Punjab through an illegal notification.   He mentioned a number of writ petitions which were decided by the LHC according to which actual/ main contesting respondents including Punjab government, Agriculture department, Industries, Commerce and Investment department, the food department, the environment protection department as well as the law and parliamentary affairs department were impleaded through their competent authorities.

District Coordination Officers of Muzaffar Garh, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur and Rajanpur were also impleaded, the petition stated. It also made party to the ministry of textile industries and the ministry of national food and research, Islamabad to explain the federal government’s policy and national interest.

Imran Khan said that Shehbaz Sharif was ruling Punjab for about 9 years and he was chief minister of the province at the moment was elected from PP-159 and being headed of the cabinet was custodian of every penny of fiscal resources and assets of the province. But he acted quite contrary to it, he said.

Khan also relied upon Supreme Court’s decision in Panama Papers case and inquiry report prepared  by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) against the ruling Sharif family involving Shehbaz Sharif. 

He said that letter issued by Ministry of Justice of UAE had also proved this fact that respondent and his family conveniently tells lies. He further alleged that Shehbaz Sharif and his elder brother Nawaz Sharif created worst examples of conflict of interest in the history of nations and made unlawful colossal business gains through their families and cronies.

He referred another decision of the SC which contained reports of various banks saying respondent and his family as defaulter. However, he said that only National Bank of Pakistan claimed that  the respondents made payment of Rs6 billion.

Justifying submission of his petition before the court, he submitted that Speaker Punjab Assembly was moved a reference for disqualification of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif but he dismissed the reference.  He questioned Shehbaz Sharif’s membership of the legislative assembly and subsequently chief minister-ship saying that   “under what authority of law he has been holding the office of Chief Minister as well as member of the provincial assembly,”.

 He prayed the court declare Shehbaz Sharif as disqualified and order Election Commission of Pakistan to de-notify him in accordance with law.