ISLAMABAD: A five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court (SC) led by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa resumed hearing the Panama Leaks case, today.

Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf presented his arguments in the court, today, where he stated that he had taken a look at the records and concluded that the Sharif family took loan on foreign currency accounts.

In response, Justice Azmat Saeed remarked that the court had been told that investments had been made with the Qatar Prince, and no foreign currency account had been mentioned. He asked the Attorney General to assist the court and not become party to the case.

The Attorney General, however,  emphasised that the Hudaibiya Paper Mill case should be kept separate from the Panama Paper case. Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf told the court that the petitioners had sought the apex court to disqualify the prime minister; however, the apex court had not encouraged such petitions in the past and rejected for not being maintainable.

Ausaf said decisions pertaining to disqualification were available adding that he would assist the court on its jurisdiction in hearing such cases. “My job is to assist the apex court and I will do it,” the AG said.

He contended that a relevant forum for examining the disqualification of a lawmaker and election matters was available adding that the court in past used to reject such petitions for not being maintainable.

“Now the court will have to look into the matter as to what fundamental rights of the complainant have been violated.”

Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan observed that the court had the jurisdiction to hear these applications under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. The attorney general said while exercising its jurisdiction the court had also to look into facts of the case.

He said the court will also have to look into fair trial. At this Justice Ijaz Afzal asked the attorney general whether the court had not given any opportunity to the defending counsel.

The AG submitted that Hanif Abbasi had filed two petitions, seeking disqualification of PTI Chief Imran Khan and it Secretary General Jehangir Tareen; however, these petitions were not clubbed with the instant case. Later, the court adjourned the hearing until today (Wednesday).

Justice Azmat Saeed replied that if the Hudaibiya Paper Mill case was not based on facts, why was he trying to avoid it? He added that the NAB had proven to be a dead organization.

The Supreme Court Tuesday warned Chairman NAB Qamar Zaman Chaudhry to get ready for the consequences when he told the court that the bureau won’t file an appeal against the Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict in the Hudabiya Papers Mills case in which Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had admitted to laundering money for the Sharif family in the case.

Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh and Justice Ijazul Ahsen are the bench members.

NAB Chairman said the then prosecutor general had advised the anti-graft body against filing an appeal with the apex court against the LHC verdict. Asked if the NAB didn’t want to file a reference against the four-year-old LHC verdict for quashment of Rs1.2 billion Hudabiya Paper Mills case against the Sharifs, Chaudhry replied that he will not file an appeal with the apex court. 

Chaudhry contended that they were waiting for signals from the regulator. “What do you mean by the regulator,” the court asked. “Regulator means, the court and the people of Pakistan,” he explained.

However, Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan told the NAB chairman that he could take action whenever he deemed fit. The court observed that as per the anti-graft law, the bureau could take action anyone on its own information and on information by someone. Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa remarked that they had found the word 'regulator' in Qatari prince's letter.. The court asked the FBR chairman about his role in the offshore companies. 

Chairman FBR Dr Muhammad Irshad informed the bench that he had contacted the Foreign Office over offshore companies named in the Panama Papers and sent notices to 343 people in September 2016, of which 52 people refused ownership, while 39 were not Pakistani citizens. 

He said 92 individuals had agreed that they owned owning offshore companies while 12 individuals had passed away.

The court observed that the notices were sent to Sharif family by the state institution which were ought to probe the offshore companies but had failed to do their jobs. The court observed that neither the FBR nor the NAB performed their jobs.

Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan noted that the NAB had not initiated any investigation during the past one year.

“The NAB should have at least interrogated those who names had surfaced in the Panama Papers”, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed. It is pertinent to mention that the chairman NAB the other day submitted references related to the Sharif family in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills and Raiwind Estate cases to the apex court. The counsel for the prime minister and his children have requested the Supreme Court to reject the application filed by the PTI for filing some additional documents.

The court was informed that the petitioner had filed some documents and counter affidavit on February 17 without any explanation for such delayed filing. Makhdoom Ali Khan, Shahid Hamid and Salman Akram Raja, counsel for the prime minister and his children, filed an application with the court praying for excluding the documents and counter affidavit from consideration.