ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Monday questioned if the raise in salary of former foreign minister Khawaja Asif by his employer in UAE was based on his performance or it was due to the reason that he (Asif) was holding a public office in Pakistan.

Justice Umar Ata Bandiyal also observed that Asif’s employer also run a business in Pakistan and there could be a conflict of interest while holding a public office and drawing a hefty salary from an employer in UAE.

Showing his astonishment, Justice Bandiyal further observed as to what kind of advises the former foreign minister of Pakistan, who was serving as an advisor of the company, had given to his employer, which caused immense jack up to his salary.

The queries were posed by Justice Umer Ata Bandial, heading a three-judge bench during a hearing of the appeal filed by Khwaja Asif against the Islamabad High Court (IHC) April 26 verdict wherein it disqualified the PML-N leader under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution over non-disclosure of his employment in a UAE company and the monthly salary.

During the course of hearing, Advocate Muneer A. Malik representing Khwaja Asif appeared before the bench and contended that the issue of concealment of Dubai bank account was not agitated in the main writ petition before the IHC. He stated that this issue was emanated in the rebuttal arguments.

He contended that under the Representation of Peoples Act (ROPA) such matter could be arrayed in the election petition once the returning officer rejected the objections on nomination papers.

He added that the matter of salary from a foreign company had attained finality through the ruling of Election Tribunal and the same could not be agitated again through a constitutional petition.

Justice Faisal Arab, member of the bench, asked as to what was the factual situation under which Article 62 (1)(f) was applied in the Khawaja’s Asif case.

Malik responded that there was no allegation of corruption or misuse of office by Khwaja Asif in the writ petition before the IHC. He further contended that high court held that Dubai bank account and concealment of salary was with mala fide intentions hence the court applied Article 62 (1)(f).

To a question about increase in salary of Khwaja Asif, Malik responded that his client was drawing AED 9000 according to first contract which was then increased to AED30,000 in the second contract and it was again increased to AED 50,000 in 2017. Malik claimed that the raise in salary was due to his client’s performance.

Justice Bandiyal expressed his astonishment and asked what kind of advises Khwaja Asif had given to the company when he got so much increase in his salary or it was increased because he (Asif) was holding a public office in Pakistan.

Malik again reiterated that neither this matter was before the high court not there was any bar in the law. He said that the said salaries were disclosed in collective source of income while amount was also remitted to Pakistan.

Malik contended that his client remitted the proceeds of sale of hotel to Pakistan in 2013, adding the total foreign income had included his client’s business of restaurant and employment.

Justice Bandiyal noted that Khwaja Asif received 3 crores and 40 lakh rupees in 2013. To which Malik responded that the same was disclosed in the tax returns. He further informed the bench that the Article 62 (1)(f) can be applied in the matter of dual nationality or fake degrees but not on occupation.

Muneer A. Malik concluded his arguments. Sikandar Mohmand, counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Usman Dar would start his arguments on the next date of hearing fixed for May 31.  

 

 

SYED SABEEHUL HUSSNAIN