ISLAMABAD - Heading a five-judge bench of Supreme Court, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said the hearing of landmark Panamgate case will hopefully be completed on Thursday.

He said the case is heading to its completion and directed the attorney general to finish his arguments by 11am tomorrow (Wednesday).

Justice Khosa also said the bench will hear Naeem Bukhari’s response to the reply pleaded by the Sharif family.

As the bench resumed hearing Tuesday, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said: “It is a decided fact that it is not wrong to find an offshore company. But, we want to know the role of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) regarding offshore companies.”

FBR Chairman Dr Irshad was asked to head to rostrum. He said Panama is a heaven for tax evasions and Pakistan is not in agreement with Panama to share tax details.

However, he said the board made efforts to contact the country with the help of foreign affairs ministry.

The FBR chairman told the court that the Board has issued notices to 343 owners of offshore companies, adding Hassan, Hussain and Maryam Nawaz have submitted their replies to the FBR. He said Maryam Nawaz in her reply has said that she owns no property abroad.

On the directions of the bench, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman also appeared before the bench.

The bench questioned heads of the NAB and the FBR for not taking appropriate steps to investigate the Panama Papers scandal.

During the proceedings, the court asked NAB chief Qamar Zaman Chaudhry about the steps undertaken by the accountability watchdog in the Panamagate case. In his response, Chaudhry said he was waiting for the clearance of ‘regulator’ in the matter.

Upon this the five-judge bench expressed its wonder, asking who the chairperson’s regulator was. “Are you regulated by someone?” Justice Gulzar Ahmad asked him.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, also wondered that the term “regulator” was also used by the Qatar prince in his letter. “I have been unable to understand who the regulator is in Pakistan,” he remarked.

When the bench asked the NAB chairperson whether or not he still intended to file a reference against the four-year-old Lahore High Court verdict for quashing Rs1.2 billion Hudabiya Paper Mills case against the Sharifs, Chaudhry said he will stand by his earlier view of not filling an appeal against LHC order. Upon this the bench asked him to be ready to face the consequences as the court cannot force him to file an appeal at this stage.

Justice Khosa wondered that NAB did not give weightage to the opinion of an LHC judge who asked for reinvestigation in the Hudabiya Paper mills case. He said everyone was shifting their responsibility including the ruling family and the state investigation agencies.

Addressing the NAB chairperson, Justice Khosa said: “You could have looked into the Panamangate matter but you didn’t.” The judge went on to observe that chairperson of the anti-corruption watchdog could not be removed by those who appointed him. “I wish people who have such privilege could realise that they have a major responsibility.”

Justice Khosa said the allegation was not new in the Panamagate case as it was linked with NAB’s 17-year-old Hudabiya Paper Mills reference against the Sharifs. “At least you could have considered the material, which was already available with the NAB,” he said.

Justice Azmat Saeed Shaikh also observed NAB can initiate inquiry against any official or office-bearer whose assets are beyond means.

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When the bench asked the NAB chairperson whether or not he still intended to file a reference against the four-year-old Lahore High Court verdict for quashing Rs1.2 billion Hudabiya Paper Mills case against the Sharifs, Chaudhry said he will stand by his earlier view of not filling an appeal against LHC order. Upon this the bench asked him to be ready to face the consequences as the court cannot force him to file an appeal at this stage.

Justice Khosa wondered that NAB did not give weightage to the opinion of an LHC judge who asked for reinvestigation in the Hudabiya Paper mills case. He said everyone was shifting their responsibility including the ruling family and the state investigation agencies.

Addressing the NAB chairperson, Justice Khosa said: “You could have looked into the Panamangate matter but you didn’t.” The judge went on to observe that chairperson of the anti-corruption watchdog could not be removed by those who appointed him.

“I wish people who have such privilege could realise that they have a major responsibility.”

Justice Khosa said the allegation was not new in the Panamagate case as it was linked with NAB’s 17-year-old Hudabiya Paper Mills reference against the Sharifs. “At least you could have considered the material, which was already available with the NAB,” he said.

Justice Azmat Saeed Shaikh also observed NAB can initiate inquiry against any official or office-bearer whose assets are beyond means.