Can’t disqualify PM on basis of assumptions: SC

* Bench says it will not exercise powers of a trial court and will instead decide Panama Papers case within the ambit of Article 184 (3) of the constitution

Can’t disqualify PM on  basis of assumptions: SC


ISLAMABAD: Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, a member of the larger bench hearing the Panamagate case, on Tuesday observed that how the court could set a 'dangerous' precedent by disqualifying the prime minister merely on statements.

He further told the counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Naeem Bukhari, to let the court work in the parameters of Article 184 (3), as its dignity had to be maintained.

The larger bench reiterated that the court shall not exercise the powers of a trial court and it had to decide the matter within the ambit of Article 184 (3).

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed that the jurisdiction of Article 184(3) could not be stretched to the extent of infinity. The observations came when Bukhari started his arguments, citing the report of Rehman Malik who was then Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) additional director, wherein the reference of Hudaibiya Paper Mills case was referred to, along with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar's confessional statements of money laundering through fake accounts.

He requested the bench to make the confessional statement part of the instant proceedings.

Responding to that, Justice Khan inquired about the scope of report and observed that police diaries could never form substantial evidence, adding that such a report could be used in the accountability court but without going through all process the matter could not be considered. He further observed that the top court could issue directives only to the extent that the matter be filed again before the competent authority, but it could not ignore the provisions of law.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, another member of the bench, asked the counsel for the PTI whether he wanted the court to rely on a document that had been quashed while deciding the case.

Bukhari informed that the matter was quashed, but material was still worthy, as it "establishes the money trail".

Justice Saeed observed that the document "does not tell the movement of money"; rather it was an opinion of a police officer about the movement of money.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who heads the larger bench, asked if Rehman Malik, who prepared a report as an officer of the FIA, had done anything about that report. "Once he became the interior minister, he could have pursued the case."

On this, Bukhari told the court that there was a political reconciliation at that time. Justice Khosa observed that the court was not touching political matters, adding that the issue was not proving corruption but "constitutional disqualification".

Justice Khan observed how it was possible to initiate criminal proceedings against someone over his speech.

Bukhari said that if the part of Jeddah factory was taken out and Qatari letter was disbelieved, which was also not mentioned in the speeches, the court would notice the growing wealth of Hassan Nawaz from 2000.

Bukhari placed a chart before the bench in which figures of credit transferred to Hassan's companies were mentioned. The companies included Flagship Investments, Flagship Securities, Que Holdings, Quint Limited, Quint Eaton Place and Quint Gloucester Place.

Bukhari said that a total of 990,244 pounds were transferred in 2003, 2,079,712 pounds in 2004 and 2,351,877 pounds were transferred to the mentioned companies owned by Hassan Nawaz. He questioned as to how he earned the money when he was a student in 1999. Bukhari further said that the speech in the National Assembly was in response to allegations surfaced in the wake of Panama Papers, in which he stated that Jeddah factory was sold for 64 million riyals through which the London flats were bought.

The court, however, observed that the said money was owned by the family, so how it could be linked with the prime minister. Bukhari argued that the 'trust deed' was fabricated. To this, Justice Khan observed that many other documents were also not verified, adding that if one could be fabricated then others could also be.

He further said the Mian Sharif was running the entire business, and he was in-charge when Dubai mills were sold. He said that some amount was sent to Jeddah and some to the UK, then how a son could be held accountable for what he had not done.

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