Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a review petition of PML (N) leader Hanif Abbasi seeking disqualification of PTI Chief Imran Khan over alleged non disclosure of his assets and ownership of off-shore companies.

The case was heard by a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar in Islamabad today.

The bench maintained that “no lawful point has been raised in the petition” that it be reviewed.

However, Advocate Akram Sheikh, the petitioner's lawyer, said, “The court disregarded rights.”

“As per Akram Sheikh, the court made mistakes in its last decision, however, we feel Abbasi’s petition does not carry weight and on this basis the petition is dismissed,” court said.

As the hearing began, the petitioner’s lawyer stated, “Imran provided documents in pieces which were not verified and not acceptable.”

At this, the chief justice remarked, “The court decides whether it is satisfied with the documents that are submitted and we are satisfied with the ones we received.”

Advocate Sheikh said, “If the court was advised then it would have clarified the law.” In response, Justice Nisar said, “We have clarified the law in our decision.”

Last month, Abbasi moved the top court to constitute a full court bench for resolving disputed interpretations of disqualifications laid down in Panama Case Judgment and judgments on the petitions seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Imran Khan and former Secretary General of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Jahangir Khan Tareen.

The application, filed by Advocate Akram Sheikh on behalf of Abbasi, lamented that there were no uniform guidelines about how an election dispute would be treated by the top court.

A 3-judge special bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab will take up the review petitions, filed by Abbasi and Tareen, today (Thursday).

However, the application of Abbasi states, “Lack of clarity and presence of such unanswered questions in the public space is not warranted as it may have impact on image of this ultimate court of justice and the citizens would not have safety of knowing consequences of an omission or an honest mistake or of a knowing mis-declaration in the nomination forms.”

Abbasi, who himself is life sentenced on account of conviction by anti-narcotics court in the Ephedrine case, in his application feared that different interpretations of the same provisions by discretionarily exercising Rule of Strict Liability will have impact on the image of judiciary.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader believed that such controversies were of huge public importance and the full court was needed to resolve the matter once and for all.

Abbasi had filed review petition against the December 15 order, wherein it was requested to disqualify the Prime Minister Imran Khan for not fulfilling the qualification laid down in Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution as well as section 99 (1) (f) of Representation of Peoples Act 1976.

The instant application stated that another bench of the top court in Panama Case, filed by Prime Minister Imran Khan when he was in opposition, had declared Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif as not being honest in terms of the same provisions.

Citing the Panama Case, the application stated that the SC had not considered any element of intention in order to establish any element of dishonesty. The application stated that rule of strict liability had been applied in Panama Case while on the other hand in Khan’s case no such rule was applied.

“It was clearly established from the record that the respondent (Imran Khan) had made mis-declarations and serious concealments regarding his assets and liability as well as the assets of his wife. The evaluation of these matters would also involve the nature of liability under the constitutional and statutory provisions relating to qualifications of a parliamentarian and whether the Actus Reus had to be accompanied by Mens Rea (intention) or whether the offence was one of strict liability.”

The application added that in disqualification case of Tareen, similar question will be involved as to whether his acts of commission and omission constituted any breach of the requirements under the Constitution and the statutory provisions regarding honesty.

It further stated that members of the bench made comments in Panama Case as to whether the presence of intention as well as Mens Rea was a mandatory prerequisite or whether an innocent misrepresentation or some over sight would also result in a declaration of lack of honesty.

“The scope of the yard sticks to be applied when a case attracting constitutional and statutory provisions is to result in removal of a Member of Parliament has serious implication regarding his rights as stated in Article 4 of the Constitution as well as provisions relating to fundamental rights, as well rights of the entire voters of the constituency.”

The application stated that such election matters required a delicate balancing of the rights of the parliamentarian as well as the jurisdiction and judicial powers of the Supreme Court.

It is also submitted that the right to fair trial and due process as enshrined in the Constitution mandated every person to have at least one right of appeal in a judicial proceeding.

“The increasing exercise of original jurisdiction under Article 184 (3) however, curtails the right of appeal of litigants and the only remedy available to them is a review petition.”

The application added that it was yet to be answered whether a review petition arising out of an order passed under Article 184 (3) should be treated in a different way than a case that has arisen from the lowest levels of the judicial and has reached the apex court after scrutiny at various judicial forums.

The application maintained that Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s dissent in Sheikh Rasheed disqualification case framed 7 detailed questions suggesting constitution of a full court to settle the pertinent questions in matters relating to scope of Article 225, 184 (3) and 62 (1) (f) in election disputes regarding disqualification of elected members of legislature.

“In light of the fact that there is an apparent conflict in interpretation of Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution and section 99 (1) (f) of Representation of Peoples Act involving the parliamentary structure and scrutiny of its membership by the Supreme Court, it would be in the interest of justice that the two review petitions pending before the SC be referred to the full strength of the Supreme Court or a significantly larger bench in the interest of justice,” the application argued.