ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has announced its much-awaited verdict, rejecting plea to disqualify Imran Khan and declared PTI’s key party leader Jahangir Tareen disqualified on the petitions filed by PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi.
Abbasi had filed the petition seeking disqualification of PTI chief and party’s secretary general Tareen for not disclosing their assets and ownership of the offshore companies.
Meanwhile, the apex court has sent the foreign funding case to the Election Commission of Pakistan to look into it, observing that it was the commission’s duty to probe such a matter.
The bench rejected all allegations leveled against the PTI chief, saying neither he was a shareholder nor director of an offshore company Niazi Services Limited.
It ruled Khan had also declared his London flat through an amnesty scheme.
Tareen disqualified for life
The bench disqualified Jehangir Tareen from membership of the national assembly under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution for being dishonest.
Under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, a person cannot be qualified as member of the national or provincial legislatures, if he is not ‘Sadiq and Ameen (truthful and trustworthy).
It found Tareen guilty of insider trading, concealing the ownership of offshore companies, and buying properties in the name of his employees to evade tax.
Headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar a three-judge bench had earlier on November 14 reserved the verdict after hearing arguments of the counsels of the parties concerned.
The bench that also comprised of Justice Umer Ata Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab announced the verdict, deciding the political fate of the PTI chief.
The opposition PTI and the ruling PML-N have been keenly waiting for the judgment for weeks because it has attained immense significance in the backdrop of the disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Panama Papers case.
Advocate Naeem Bukhari, the counsel for Imran Khan, had said in his concluding arguments that his client’s case was different from that of Panama Papers as there was no question of money going out of the country, but the PTI chief could not manage his accounts properly.
He argued Abbasi alleged in his petition that Khan did not disclose his assets in the nomination papers for the 2002 election, but no one raised any objection in this regard at the time of submission of the papers.
What’s the use of raising this objection after the passage of more than a decade, he asked and added that a returning officer had approved Khan’s nomination papers at that time.
The petitioner’s counsel, on the other hand, contended that the respondent changed his stance on more than 18 occasions and Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had given observation about Nawaz Sharif shifting stance twice in the Panama Papers case and eventually disqualified him.
How did the case begin?
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s leader Hanif Abbasi had filed a petition in the apex court in May this year, seeking disqualification of PTI chairman Imran Khan and another party leader Jahangir Tareen for tax evasion and concealing income sources.
The court was pleaded to declare both the PTI leaders ineligible to hold any office of a political party under the Political Parties Order 2002.
PML-N leader claimed that Jahangir misstated his income for the tax year 2010-11 and willfully and fraudulently concealed the fact that he owns an offshore company.
Whereas, Khan did not declare his offshore company – Niazi Services Limited (NSL) – in his statement of assets and liabilities submitted to the ECP in his nomination papers in the 2013 general elections.
NSL owned a flat at Draycott Avenue in London which he had purchased in 1984 and the flat remained undeclared until the Pakistan government announced an amnesty scheme in 2000.
The financial records submitted by Abbasi included details with regard to sale of Imran’s London apartment in 2004. Moreover, the documents did not have any mention of loan taken from Imran’s ex-spouse Jemima Goldsmith in connection with purchase of PTI chief’s Bani Gala residence.