Pakistan

Supreme Court throws out Sharif family’s review pleas against Panama verdict

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ISLAMABAD: Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif suffered another setback on Friday when a five-member bench of the Supreme Court dismissed a set of review petitions filed by him and members of his family against the July 28 verdict in Panama Papers case.

The bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Azmat Saeed, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, dismissed the petitions through a short order and will issue a detailed verdict later.

Earlier, the bench reserved its verdict after Advocate Salman Akram Raja, the counsel for Sharif’s children – Hussain, Hassan, Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Capt Muhammad Safdar – concluded his arguments.

Salman adopted the arguments of Khawaja Harris, the Sharif’s lawyer, with regard to the appointment of a monitoring judge of SC to oversee proceedings against members of the Sharif family in trial court.

The counsels of Sharif and finance minister Ishaq Dar had already completed their arguments yesterday.

Awami Muslim League (AML) Chairman Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed also put forward his arguments on his petition against the NAB for failing to file an appeal for re-opening of the Hudaibiya Papers Mills case

The bench disposed of his petition after an assurance by the NAB to file an appeal in the top court in this regard within a week.

During hearing on Thursday,  Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had observed that the apex court had in the past provided relief to Nawaz Sharif and asked him to have trust in the court.

“Do not give the impression that the Supreme Court has become a complainant [against Sharif],” he said.

“Whenever cases were established against Sharif in violation of legal provisions, it was this Supreme Court that safeguarded him.”

Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Harris said that Article 62(1)(f) of the constitution could not be applied to anyone for merely concealing assets.

He had been unable to know any precedents in which the court had disqualified a public representative under Article 62 for concealing assets, he argued.

Cautioning long-lasting adverse outcomes of life-time disqualification term, the counsel claimed that the constitution does not specify such kind of disqualification under Article 62.

“My client has been disqualified for life-time on not disclosing his work permit and salary from an offshore company, [however] nullifying general elections could only dismiss him for a single election term [five year term],” he further said.

The counsel added that although his client was not backtracking from the employment agreement but he did not have a bank account for the purpose.

To which, Justice Ejaz Afzal said that the employment agreement showed that a salary of 10,000 dirhams had been set for Sharif.

Joining in arguments, Justice Ahsan said that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) documents tell us that Sharif had a bank account to receive the salary. “According to the probing team findings, the first salary was drawn on August 1, 2013.”

“The question is, how can the court accept verbally that Nawaz Sharif did not receive the salary?” questioned Justice Afzal, adding that a statement could not be accepted without scrutiny under the law of evidence.

The bench ruled that the documents provided by the JIT looking into the Sharif family’s businesses show that Nawaz Sharif did receive salary as the chairman of Capital FZE.

To which, Harris argued that not every salary constitutes an asset.

“Sharif did not merit disqualification merely on this basis, [although] he had not withdrawn salary [from Capital FZE], it still constituted an asset [due to being a receivable],” Harris said.

The counsel contended that references could not be filed against the Sharif family on the basis of the JIT report, which he said was incomplete.

“We did not issue the verdict in light of the JIT report,” Justice Afzal responded, adding that court does not accept the report as credible evidence. He said the petitioners have the full right of defence in the accountability court.

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