ISLAMABAD: Justice Faisal Arab, who was a member of a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court that absolved PTI chief Imran Khan, wrote an additional note in the verdict, comparing his case with that of Panama Papers involving ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
A day earlier the apex court announced its much-awaited verdict on petitions filed by the PML-N leader, disqualify PTI key leader Jehangir Tareen while rejecting plea to disqualify Imran Khan.
In his note, Justice Faisal said the Panama Papers case involving former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is drastically different from that of Khan.
“In that case serious allegations of money laundering, corruption and possession of assets beyond known means were made against Sharif after he held public offices several times. In the past thirty years, he remained finance minister, chief minister and prime minister,” he noted.
He said,“The sources of acquiring several assets were not satisfactorily explained by him and members of his family which included purchase of four flats in London, setting up of Azizia Steel Factory in Saudi Arabi, Gulf Steel Mills in Dubai and receiving Rs840 million on regular basis over a period of four years from 2011 to 2015 as gifts from an entity called Hill Metals established in Jeddah by Sharif’s son.”Justice Faisal noted that none of these assets were acquired prior to his holding of high-profile public offices.
He said there was either total or very little explanation as to how these assets were built, who were shareholders, what was the source of funds and how the funds were generated.Considering the high-profile office which Nawaz Sharif held over the years, accumulation of his monthly salary from Capital FZE was considered as concealment of an asset which led this court to declare Sharif as dishonest, Justice Faisal said.Touching on the grounds on which the petitioner relied seeking disqualification of Khan, Justice Faisal observed that as per documents submitted by the PML-N leader, the respondent PTI chief did not hold a single share in the offshore company, Niazi Services Limited.
He only hired the service of the companies that act as trustees and hold assets for the benefit of the real owner, he noted.Moreover, he said, Imran Khan also disclosed the ownership of his London flat in the nomination papers filed in 2002 general elections.
“London flat was not something purchased from hidden, undisclosed, tax evaded income but was purchased from tax-paid clean income earned from playing years of professional cricket abroad.”
“So it was not a case of taking advantage of the amnesty scheme in order to convert black money into white,” SC judge noted.
“I am, therefore, of the considered opinion that a person’s honesty prior to his becoming a member of the National or a Provincial Assembly can be called in question only if he has accumulated wealth through fraud, embezzlement, bribery or tax evasion and has been so declared by a competent court of law.”