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Khawaja Asif can’t be labelled dishonest over omission, rules SC

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday issued a detailed judgement in the Khawaja Asif disqualification case. 

It stated that neither a case of conflict of interest is made out against Khawaja Asif nor has any wrongdoing associated with any asset belonging to him has been established.

The 22-page ruling was authored by Justice Faisal Arab, a member of the bench that set aside the verdict of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) disqualifying the former foreign minister as member of Parliament.

The three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Justice Umer Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah had given this short order on June 1 this year.

In the detailed verdict, the bench observed: “In the present case neither a case of conflict of interest is made out nor has any wrongdoing associated with any asset belonging to the petitioner has been established in order to warrant interference in proceedings in the nature of quo warranto.”

“Petitioner’s disqualification has also been sought on the ground that he had AED 5,000/- in his account bearing No.6201853775 maintained with National Bank of Abu Dhabi, UAE which he failed to disclose in his nomination paper filed at the time of contesting 2013 general elections. He explained the omission by stating that it happened due to oversight.”

This bank account was however disclosed in the statement of assets and CIVIL PETITION NO. 1616 OF 2018 21 liabilities filed in the year 2015 as required under Section 42A of RoPA. A complete bank statement of the said account is on the record which reflects that the petitioner opened his account on 17.04.2010 with a sum of AED 5,000/- and five years later closed it on 07.07.2015. In the interregnum, the bank had only been debiting bank charges periodically which brought down the original deposit amount from AED 5,000/- to AED 4,715/-. This balance amount was finally withdrawn from the account when it was closed.”

“ So right from the day the bank account was opened and till its closure, no business was transacted in the said account which substantiates the plea taken by the petitioner that non-disclosure was an innocent omission and not intended to conceal some wrongdoing. We are not oblivious of the fact that a bank account may reflect certain transactions of substantial value which have already taken place and scrutiny of such transactions may lead to disclosure of illegal financial dealings regardless of the meager amount lying deposited. However, that is not the case here as other than making a deposit of AED 5,000/- no transaction has taken place in the said account which throughout its life remained dormant. Hence the petitioner cannot be labeled dishonest for omitting to declare such a small amount under Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution.”

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