SC resumes hearing Panama case: Justice Ejazul Ahsan says not bound implement on JIT report

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ISLAMABAD: A three-member Supreme Court bench resumed hearing the Panama Papers case, the first after submission of JIT report, on Monday.

Justice Azmat Saeed and Justice Ejazul Ahsan are members of the bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan.

Justice Ejazul Ahsan observed that we are not bound to implement upon the findings of the JIT report. Why do we implement on the JIT findings, you have to convince, he remarked.

Earlier, Counsel for PTI Naeem Bukhari presenting his arguments said the Sharif family has failed to prove their statements regarding the Gulf Steel Mills in Dubai.

The Gulf Steel Mills was not sold for AED 33 million nor was the payment of 12 million Dirhams to Qatar’s Al-Thani family proved by the respondents, he said.

He added that the UAE justice ministry did not verify the April 14, 1980 transaction of Gulf Steel Mills.

Bukhari also reiterated several other points raised by the investigators in their final report.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan remarked that Shehbaz Sharif appeared in front of the JIT as a witness, his statement can only be used to identify discrepancies.

Terming the Qatari letter a concocted tale, Bukhari said the London properties have been in possession of the Sharif family since day one. He informed that the JIT was given documents from a respondent. When Justice Ijazul Ahsan inquired whether they are certified, the PTI counsel replied in the negative.

Taking his arguments further, Bukhari said the JIT wrote four letters to the Qatari prince to record his statement but the royal family member said he was not willing to accept the jurisdiction of Pakistani law. “Even the JIT stated in its report that it is not necessary to record his statement,” he said further.

Bukhari said the Nawaz Sharif is the chairman of the board of FZE Capital, adding that his signatures are on documents related to the company. Justice Saeed asked the PTI counsel if they documents were brought to Pakistan through mutual legal assistance or via sources. Bukhari replied that the JIT can answer that query.

Justice Ijaz asked if the premier received a salary for his services. “According to the records he received remuneration throughout but did not got a monthly salary,” he observed further.

The court then took a brief recess. Once the hearing resumed, Bukhari said there’s a clear difference in the statements of the prime minister’s son Hasan and Hussain.

The PTI counsel said the Sharif family owns assets beyond their means — the conclusion reached by the JIT in its final report.

In his comments, Justice Ejaz wondered if the JIT can trust the veracity of the documents delivered to it without knowing their source.

Objections submitted

Earlier, the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar submitted their objections on the JIT report to the court. Sharif family’s counsel Khawaja Harris will later present his arguments against the JIT report.

The JIT, formed in light of the apex court’s April 20 judgment to probe the Sharif family’s money trail, submitted its 60-day investigation report to the court on July 10.

The report highlighted the failure of the Sharif family to provide a money trail for its London apartments and claimed the prime minister and his children own assets beyond their known sources of income.

Following the report’s submission, the special bench issued notices to all parties to submit their responses.

Strict security measures are in place in and around the Supreme Court in light of the much-anticipated hearing.

Around 700 policemen, along with Rangers personnel and officials of the local administration, have been deployed for the hearing.

Strict security measures were also seen around the Federal Judicial Academy, that served as the JIT secretariat, which led credence to reports that the six JIT members could also be attending today’s hearing.

Politicians from across the spectrum arrived at the apex court ahead of the high-profile hearing.

Details to follow.

 

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