PM braces for court verdict in Panamagate case
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan will announce its verdict in the Panamagate case today, July 28, as it added the matter in its cause list on Thursday, ARY News reported.
According to the cause list, the verdict will be announced at 11:30 AM on July 28, Friday (today), by a five-member larger bench comprising Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
The cause list ended all the speculations about whether a three member bench or a five member bench will announce the final verdict.
The apex court’s full bench announced its first order in the case on April 20 and ordered formation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to further probe charges of financial impropriety against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family.
As the six-member JIT submitted its final report before SC on July 10, a three member bench comprising Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan then heard the case for five days during which counsels of the petitioners and respondents presented their arguments on different aspects of the JIT report.
A brief history of Pakistan’s Panamagate scandal
The Panama Papers scandal unraveled to the world with shock and Pakistan was no exception especially when its ruling elite were discovered to have stashed their wealth offshore.
The leaked papers, comprising 11.5 million documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, exposed how some of the world’s most powerful people have secreted their money offshore, and also implicated Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s sons Hasan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz.
The revelations in a report released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) dropped like a bombshell on the government on April 4, 2016, prompting countrywide debate whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should stay in office after startling disclosures concerning stashed wealth of his family.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan issued notices to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the parties concerned on October 20.
The apex court took up petitions in the case, seeking disqualification of the prime minister as leader of the government and his family members.
Apart of PTI, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Barrister Zafarullah Khan of Watan Party also filed petitions in the same case.
Supreme Court’s five member bench announced its first order on April 20 and ordered formation of a JIT to further probe allegations of financial impropriety against the Sharif family.
The JIT was to comprise officials of National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), State Bank of Pakistan, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) and will be led by a director-general level FIA officer.
The540-page order was split 3-2 among the bench with two dissenting notes in the judgment by Justice Khosa and Justice Gulzar. The two judges ruled against PM Nawaz Sharif, whereas the other three were in favour of constituting the JIT.
The Supreme Court on May 2 announced a three-judge bench to implement its judgement in the Panama Papers case.
The bench consisted of Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan – the same judges who handed down the majority judgement in the Panama Papers case.
The JIT on July 10 submitted its fourth and final report to the Supreme Court today and it recommended the apex court to file reference against the prime minister, his two sons and daughter Maryam Nawaz under the National Accountability Ordinance.
The panel also disclosed that the prime minister was the chairman of a board in another offshore company, FZE Capital UAE.
After the release of the JIT report, a number of legal experts commented that it will not be easy for the prime minister to escape disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.
With the JIT report’s submission, the SC also asked for transcripts of all speeches made in the last 60 days by PML-N’s Talal Chaudhry, Railways Minister Saad Rafique, and the PM’s Special Assistant on Political Affairs Asif Kirmani, presumably to examine them for contemptuous content.
The apex court further ordered the registration of a criminal case against the SECP chairman in order to find out who was behind tampering the records of businesses owned by the Sharif family.