ISLAMABAD -  With the full backing of all the opposition parties a bill will be tabled before the upper house of the Parliament today to seek formation of judicial commission and probe into the Panama Papers revelations under the terms of reference (ToRs) already worked out by the joint opposition.

Both houses of the Parliament will be meeting Monday evening to take up heavy agendas besides some heated debates on the provocative statements of MQM chief Altaf Hussain; the dissociation of MQM Pakistan with their party headquarters in London; the war hysteria generated by the Indian leadership and the bold stance taken by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at UN General Assembly on Kashmir, the upcoming protest march of PTI at Raiwind besides the regular items including some important pieces of legislation on the agenda lists of both the houses.

Opposition parties after their failure to work out some mutually acceptable terms of reference for Panama leaks probe with the government had drafted their own bill to get some proper legislation from the Parliament to deal with the tricky issue of offshore companies and transnational and trans-jurisdictional transfer of money.

Although the opposition parties’ moves would just be of exerting more pressure on the government because they could only get the bill through from the Senate where they have majority but when the bill would come to National Assembly the government would easily defeat it and as per constitutional norms the bill adopted by one house and rejected by the other would finally land in the Joint Sitting of the Parliament where again the government keeping in view its numerical strength would easily scrap it, a constitutional expert commenting on the situation said.

He said that the tabling and passage of the bill from the upper house of the Parliament would just be to put more pressure on the ruling PML-N to accept the opposition’s demand of initiating the probe into the Panama leaks from the Prime Minister and his family members.

Leader of Opposition in Senate, Barrister Ch. Aitzaz Ahsan, the moving force behind the whole exercise, had time and again made it clear that they would not accept the government’s mode of inquiry into the Panama leaks and would continue pushing for the acceptance of the ToRs tailored by the joint opposition.

He admitted that due to numerical strength the government would finally defeat the piece of legislation.

The bill to be tabled before the Senate as private member’s bill today titled ‘Panama Papers Inquires Act, 2016’, would be seeking formation of a commission to conduct an inquiry into the Panama papers, under the terms of reference (ToRs) already proposed by the joint opposition.

In the bill the opposition has sought a legal process for inquiries into the transnational and trans-jurisdictional secret transfers and deposits of vast sums of Pakistani rupees and resources by persons whose names have been disclosed in the Panama Papers.

“This new special law is designed to facilitate the state through specific provisions providing for effective transnational and trans-jurisdictional tracing and outreach to uncover all those secreted funds, assets and properties,” it was stated in the preamble of the bill.

The bill suggests the federal government shall make a reference to the chief justice of Pakistan to nominate three judges of the apex court with the senior-most judge being chairman of the commission or if the CJP himself is a member, he shall be the chairman.

The commission will have the powers to constitute a national or international joint investigation team or teams and seek cooperation from foreign countries and agencies in accordance with the UN Convention against corruption and other related conventions and laws. It will also be able to hire services of advocates of good repute to assist in an inquiry or inquiries.

The commission will also be able to appoint a committee of experts in international forensic audit to carry out an exhaustive investigation and audit into the offshore companies and their accounts. “It shall be critical duty of the committee to verify and report to the commission the money trail [during the period 1985 to 2016] which provided funds for such offshore companies and the consequential payments out of such funds for investments and other financial transactions,” it added.

The bill mentions a timeframe of three months to one year to conclude inquiry/inquiries. The commission will start its inquiry from persons and their families who have publicly admitted [like in the case of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif] of holding offshore companies as revealed in the Panama leaks.

“Inquiries in respect of other respondents [who have been named in Panama Papers but they have not publicly admitted] shall only be commenced thereafter and be concluded in 12 months,” suggests the bill.

The commission will have powers to summon any person or authority during the course of proceedings to furnish information and documents irrespective of any privilege (immunity) available under any law to said person. “Privilege in no case shall be claimed with respect to assets already admitted through application to the commission or in a public statement by the respondent,” it adds.