SC verdict on Imran, Tareen disqualification today

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court will announce today the verdict on a petition of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Hanif Abbasi, seeking disqualification of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan and Secretary General Jehangir Tareen.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and including Justice Umar Atta Bandial and Justice Faisal, heard Abbasi’s petition for almost one-year and reserved the judgment on November 14.

The PML-N leader has demanded disqualification of both top PTI leaders for non-disclosures of offshore companies and assets in their nomination papers.

The allegations against Khan relate to PTI foreign funding, offshore company Niazi Service Limited, London flat, Constitution Avenue flat and Bani Gala land.

The charges against Tareen involve Shiny View Limited house in London, inland trading, mis-declaration of agri income in nomination papers in 2013 and loan write off.

Supreme Court reporters, who have regularly covered the case for one-year, are of the opinion that the court may clear Khan but Tareen could face an adverse judgment.

In its July 28 judgment against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the apex court had attributed dishonesty solely to non-declaration of assets (receivables) and not to misapprehension and the absence of intention to deceive. The PML-N leader wanted that the same rule should be applied in this case as well.

Political observers believe that the PML-N is in a win-win situation as any kind of outcome will be advantageous to it.

It would be obviously good for the ruling party if either of them [Khan and Tareen] or they both are disqualified. But it would also be not bad if they get a clean chit as it would reinforce PML-N point of view that the judiciary was targeting them.

During the proceedings, Abbasi’s counsel Akram Sheikh had taken the stance that Khan, from the very outset of the proceedings, conducted himself in a highly non-transparent and ‘shifty manner’. He had argued that the PTI chief changed his stance for 18 times, trying to hide behind technicalities by shifting stances.

The shifting of stance has been held to be a ground for disqualification by the two minority opinions in Panama Papers case rendered by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed.

Some legal experts say that whether it was intentional or unintentional and the mental condition has become irrelevant after the Panama leaks judgment, therefore, the court has to see non-declaration of assets in the nomination papers.

The PTI chief’s plea that the declarations had been filed before the ECP for the years ending 30-6-2002 and 30-6-2003; therefore, those declarations relating to an old election could not be the basis for de-seating him from the current assembly.

Akram Sheikh had argued that in the judgments of Allah Dino Bahio and Najeeb-ud-Din Awasi cases, the court has declared that if a person has mis-declared in his previous nomination papers, then it could be a consequence for disqualification in the next elections. He had said that the omission was treated dishonesty not only in the Panama judgment but many other judgments of the apex court.

Sikandar Bashir, the counsel for Tareen, had taken the stance that dishonesty should not be equated to infallibility and dishonesty was the state of mind.

According to Sikandar, the Sharif family could not disclose details of their assets. Sharif was held dishonest on the basis of inconsistency in their statements. According to him, in this case, they had provided documents, arguments and the case law.

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