- Justice Jamali asks both parties to ‘show restraint’
- PM Nawaz Sharif, PTI chief Imran Khan agree on commission
A day ahead of Imran Khan’s plan of Islamabad lockdown, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered both the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to submit their Terms of Reference (ToRs) on the formation of a commission for a probe into the Panama Papers leaks.
As the apex court took up five constitutional petitions – among them two filed by the PTI – seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the wake of the Panama Papers revelations, Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali asked both the parties to “show restraint” and remarked that the decision of the commission would be considered as the court’s ruling and would be binding upon all parties.
The chief justice observed that the Panama leaks issue was related to fundamental rights and was of public importance, adding that “we have to save the country from unrest and crises”.
The court, while adjourning the hearing till November 3 (Thursday), also directed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family to submit their reply over the case.
A five-judge bench comprising CJP Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Amir Hani Muslim, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Hassan heard the case.
Earlier during the proceedings, the court directed both the government and PTI to submit their comments after consulting with their respective leaderships on the formation of a commission and suspended the hearing for two hours.
The court also stated it would decide who would chair the commission and who its members would be.
“The commission will report to the Supreme Court,” the court stated, adding that it would hold powers equal to the apex court.
The court maintained that all parties would be given an opportunity to state their point.
It also remarked that the PTI should adopt a more responsible approach towards the issue, adding that all eyes were on this high-profile case.
In his remarks, Justice Khosa observed that the entire nation was suffering due to this matter, but none of the federal investigation agencies were willing to conduct a probe. He said that if an individual could not justify his assets according to his income then an inquiry should be initiated.
Justice Hani observed that if money from the country was going abroad then the NAB could intervene.
PML-N, PTI ACCEPT COURT’S OFFER:
According to PTI’s counsel, the court said that in the event that both parties did not form a consensus on ToRs, the court itself would decide the terms.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, PTI’s counsel Hamid Khan said, “There is agreement on the commission.”
“We have said the commission will investigate Panamagate and give its findings,” he said, adding that the court told both parties to present ToRs. “If there is no consensus, court will decide ToRs itself,” the lawyer said.
“The PM had on April 4 had said he presents himself and his family for accountability. But he wasted seven months,” he added.
PML-N lawyer Aslam Butt also informed the court that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif agreed to the formation of a judicial commission.
PTI chief Imran Khan did not attend the hearing and sent party leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi to represent him.
Petitions in relation to the leaks were first moved by Advocate Tariq Asad, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq, PTI chief Imran Khan and Awami Muslim League (AML) head Sheikh Rashid Ahmed asking for the appointment of a judicial commission to investigate the investment made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and members of his family in an offshore investment company called Mossack Fonseca.
TORS FOR PROBE INTO PANAMA PAPERS LEAKS:
In May this year, CJP Jamali had declined the government’s request to form what he then called a “toothless” judicial commission to probe revelations that surfaced in the Panama data leaks.
Justice Jamali had rejected the commission saying the scope of the government’s proposed commission was too limited, the ToRs were too wide and had said it may take years to conclude proceedings.
The Supreme Court in May had also asked the government to “reconsider and resolve the issue of formation of the commission under proper legislation” after which it would decide on the modalities of the inquiry commission.
An investigation published April 3 by an international coalition of more than 100 media outlets ─ based on 11.5 million records and 2.6 terabytes of information drawn from the internal database of Panamaian law firm Mossack Fonseca ─ details how politicians, celebrities and other famous people use banks, law firms and offshore shell companies to hide their assets.
According to documents available on the ICIJ website, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s children Maryam, Hasan and Hussain “were owners or had the right to authorise transactions for several companies”.
The data leak revealed the financial wheelings and dealings of over 200 Pakistanis, including the late Benazir Bhutto, Rehman Malik and other prominent politicians and businessmen.
Since the data leak, PM Nawaz has been under immense pressure at the hands of the opposition to ensure a transparent inquiry is held to justify his children’s offshore companies.