ISLAMABAD - Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar yesterday said the Supreme Court cannot disqualify parliamentarians on mere presumptions, as he also expressed his unhappiness over the trend of bringing disqualification cases directly to the apex court.

The CJP was heading a bench hearing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Hanif Abbasi’s petition against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan and General Secretary Jehangir Tareen for having offshore companies.

The court sought details of Tareen’s offshore company Shinny Limited, which, according to the plaintiff, owns a flat in London that was acquired after selling property in Canada.

Abbasi’s lawyer Azid Nafees told the court that Tareen was not Sadiq and Ameen, as he, in his application to the court, took the stance that he has no offshore company but in an interview he admitted to having Shinny Limited. He contended that Tareen did not mention this in his nomination papers too.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said Tareen was accepting that he has an offshore company but that was in the name of his children, while he has nothing to do with it and he was just settler of the Trust.

The money Tareen sent to his children has been transferred through banking channel, the chief justice said. However, he remarked they don’t know when the flat was acquired and what its price was.

The chief justice directed Tareen’s counsel to supply the details of PTI general secretary’s offshore company including its creation and interest in Trust, any receipt transmitted by the Trust, title of company, names of its legal and beneficial owners, the details of company’s assets and the amount sent from Pakistan for its creation.

Tareen’s lawyer Sikandar Bashir contended that the petitioner instead of providing the documents to establish the allegations against his client was asking Tareen to provide these things.

Abbasi’s counsel said that his client filed the petition in view of the Panama Papers leaks. He demanded that Tareen should be disqualified for not declaring offshore company in his nomination papers.

The chief justice questioned whether ‘this court’ on the basis of Panama Papers leaks could hear cases against parliamentarians. He also questioned whether every kind of case against the parliamentarians could be directly filed in the Supreme Court.

The chief justice said if today they were hearing Jehangir Tareen’s case then tomorrow there will be another petition against some other parliamentarian, and on presumptions, they could not disqualify the lawmakers.

The petitioner’s counsel claimed that Tareen’s children were acting as his ‘benamidar’, adding his income tax has shown inflated income from agriculture because it is non-taxable. Similarly, Tareen has shown huge sums received from children as gifts in the income tax as this is also non-taxable. “This is the way he has whitened and laundered money,” he claimed.

The chief justice remarked there was nothing illegal in it as fathers give and receive money from their children.

Abbasi’s counsel said that Tareen received Rs87,500,000 in 2010 and Rs69,750,000 in 2015 from his children, while gifted Rs1.4 billion to his children from 2010 to 2015 as per his income tax and wealth tax returns.

Azid argued that in the Panama Papers case against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif this was the issue that how the property was acquired and where did the money come from.

Justice Umar Atta Bandial remarked in that case foreign asset was admitted by the respondents.

Azid replied in this case Tareen has also admitted having an offshore company. He contended that Tareen by sending money to his children has in fact invested in the company, which owns a flat in London. He alleged that the proceeds from that investment were coming back to Tareen in the shape of gifts, adding the PTI general secretary became public office holder for the first time in 2002 and he was sending money to his children since then.

The court observed that money was received and sent through banking channel and Tareen had paid taxes on his income. The court questioned how it would be established that Tareen was the beneficial owner of the company.

Regarding commission of the offence in the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, the counsel contended that by depositing the gains and fine Tareen accepted his offence. He said in Article 62(1)(f) the word court of law does not in a strict sense mean ‘court of law’ but the SECP, which is the regulatory body, and the order has the binding force for the disqualification of him.

He said under section 25 of National Accountability Ordinance 1999, the accused returns the money in a plea bargain. He added that the Supreme Court in Dr Mubashir Hassan case has declared that even if the accused returns the actual amount, earned through illegal means, through a plea bargain, he would still be considered an accused.

The case was adjourned until today (Thursday)