The JIT report is out and it doesn’t look good for the house of Sharif. No money trail has been established for the procurement of the London Flats. Instead, ownership of more overseas companies has come to light. Worse yet, there is evidence of forgery and falsification. Are we going to see the Prime Minister being disqualified? Maybe, but not by default. The honorable judges in their April 20 judgment alluded to referring the matter for NAB proceedings in case such a report comes out. It said that it cannot assume jurisdiction to hear such a matter when the law has clearly provided a mechanism for such situations, ie the NAB law. So what has come to light from the report and what does it mean for the Sharifs? Firstly, the family has failed to account for their assets. The likely result of that is that they shall get another attempt to do so in the NAB court. An important point here is that the onus of proof is on them. They must clearly establish that their assets have been procured through lawful means. Anything short will result in a conviction. A complication pertaining to NAB proceedings is that the constitution holds the Prime Minister immune from criminal liability while he/she is in office. If the occasion arises, Nawaz is likely to claim this immunity. He might do so successfully. In the very least, the issue of immunity might have to travel up the judicial hierarchy all the way to the Supreme Court. That might buy him enough time to contest the next election. The second issue pertains to disqualifications arising out of dishonest disclosure of assets during the 2013 general elections. Turns out, Nawaz was receiving a monthly salary of Dhs 10,000 from a Dubai company that he was Chairman of, and that he did not disclose this information in his nomination papers. This is likely to be sent to the Election Tribunal. If Nawaz fails to explain this to the tribunal, he will be deemed to not be Sadiq and Ameen by the tribunal, and thus, shall be disqualified as member of the parliament. Capt Safdar faces a similar predicament. The report states that his wife, Maryam Safdar is the beneficial owner of Nescoll and Nielson. Capt Safdar was required to disclose such beneficial ownership of these assets by his wife in his nomination papers, which he failed to do. He, too, might face disqualification at the hands of an election tribunal. The third legally significant thing brought to light is that Maryam Nawaz submitted documents to the Supreme Court and the JIT that were typed in a font that did not exist in the year the document purports to have been executed. This, the JIT holds, is evidence of forgery and equivalent to misleading the court and the JIT. The Supreme Court may hold Ms Maryam in contempt for this, and may direct the government to initiate criminal prosecution against her for forgery. If she is convicted of either of the two, she will be barred from contesting the next elections. The onus of proof is on the Sharif family. They must clearly establish that their assets have been procured through lawful means. Anything short will result in a conviction The most immediate impact might come from the fourth point. There seems to be merit to the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case. The Supreme Court may direct NAB to file an appeal against the High Court order it has been hiding behind. But this appeal is time barred! But the Supreme Court can condone the delay in filing the appeal by virtue of its vast constitutional powers, particularly since the stench of foul play surrounding the matter has become even more rancid after the report. A significant point here is that even Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif is implicated in the case. Could a deathblow be served to the ruling family through this case? Possibly. Will the Supreme Court disqualify the prime minister while passing a final order in the Panamagate case? It can, but it is unlikely that it will. The two of the three judges that formed the JIT said that it might exercise its Quo Warranto powers to disqualify Nawaz if there is irrefutable evidence that the premier had lied, and was thus no longer Sadiq and Ameen. There doesn’t seem to be any such irrefutable evidence in the JIT report. Even otherwise, PML-N vehemently rejects its findings so the evidence contained in the report is subject to contest. The court has expressed strong suspicion that NAB is in cahoots with the Sharif family and is helping them avoid liability. It remains to be seen then how the court will entrust this prosecution, as explained above, to NAB. It could require NAB to present it with biweekly update reports, as it did with the JIT. However, such an order might be criticised as a partisan interference into the NAB proceedings by the Supreme Court, prejudicing the rights of the accused. Suffice to say that this is not the end. The opposition has tirelessly kept the issue alive in public discourse. It remains to be seen if it has the stamina to take it over the finish line. The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore Published in Daily Times, July 13th , 2017.