ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court yesterday held although the tax amnesty scheme introduced in 2000 was not meant for politicians, even then PTI chief Imran Khan benefited from it.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, was hearing PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi’s petition against PTI Chairman Imran Khan and General Secretary Jehangir Khan.

The court observed the amnesty scheme was for assessees while Niazi Services Limited (NSL) was not an assessee at that time. Naeem Bukhari, representing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman, argued that no objection was raised by the CBR at the time when Imran Khan benefited from the tax amnesty and now it was a past and closed transaction under the existing income tax laws. Imran Khan started filing income tax returns in 1982 and wealth statements along with his tax returns in 1989, he contended.

In all his wealth statements from 1989 to 2000, he never declared his London flat and the offshore company, NSL, established in 1983.

Akram Sheikh, representing Hanif Abbasi, pleaded that Imran Khan, in his nomination papers filed in the Election Commission of Pakistan, did not declare his offshore company, Niazi Services Limited, so he had not told truth to the nation.

The court asked Imran Khan’s counsel Naeem Bukhari that he had to establish that the Bani Gala property was meant for his ex-wife and the children, because the money for it was provided through a third party, Rashid Ali Khan.

Imran’s counsel had earlier contended that the Bani Gala property was for the former cricketer’s ex-wife Jemima Khan and children.

The chief justice stated the petitioner did not want Imran Khan penalised, but notwithstanding the penalty provided in the income tax law, Imran Khan should not have done it as the leader of a political party.

Bukhari contended that the London flat was purchased in 1983 with British pounds 170,000 and Imran earned this money while playing cricket in London and Australia.

He said the NSL’s total capital was nine UK pounds shares, having three shareholders – Langary Services Limited, Langary Secretaries Limited and Langary Consultant. Each company had three UK pounds shares. The purpose of the NSL was to avoid capital gains tax, the lawyer told the court, adding Imran Khan had returned money to his ex-wife Jemima Khan through cross cheques.

Jemima Khan’s name regarding Bani Gala land remained in the revenue record long after the divorce which took place in June 2004. He said on the basis of the revenue record, it could not be declared that Imran Khan was not trustworthy or had lied to the nation. Bukhari informed the court that Imran had entered into a contact with Jemima Khan on Sunday to collect the documents available with her from 2000 to 2003. She had promised to furnish the documents; as soon as the documents were received, they would be produced before the court, Bukhari said.

Bukhari stated Imran Khan’s income tax returns would also be furnished to the court in a sealed envelope which only the court could examine and not the other party.

On the court query, he said the gift of Bani Gala land was executed through Jemima Khan’s power of attorney dated March 21, 2005. He said the attorney power was given by Jemima in favour of Saifullah Sarwar.

Bukhari contended the power of attorney had not been disputed by anyone and it was a matter between a former wife and husband, arguing how the third party could question it.

According to the attorney power, Jemima writes; “I don’t intend to keep the land with me and get the land transferred in the name of Imran Khan,” Bukhari said.

The chief justice said they would have to examine how the property was transferred and what the nature of the property was. He noted they had to see whether this question could be raised under Article 6(3) of Political Parties Order (PPO) 2002, as the other side’s claim was that the PTI was a foreign-funded party and had received funds from prohibited sources.

The chief justice said, on the other hand, Anwar Mansoor, the PTI counsel, argued that the procedure had been described in the PPO and under Article 6(4) and Article 13 of the PPO, the audit accounts had been examined by the ECP which had not raised any objection. The 13 days’ time given in the PPO for objection was also over, so it was a past and closed transaction, he contended. As the procedure had been completed, only review petition could be filed now, he argued.