Panamagate: ‘PM’s speech is privileged’ | Pakistan Today

Panamagate: ‘PM’s speech is privileged’

Prime Minister’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan continued his arguments for the fourth consecutive day in the Panama Papers leaks case here in Supreme Court on Monday.

Makhdoom Ali Khan, continuing his arguments, said the prime minister could not be disqualified on the basis of his speech under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. He was of the view that since speeches in parliament are privileged, the court cannot question PM about his speech. He also cited decisions by Indian courts that support his claim.

A five-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, and comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmad, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan is hearing the case.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa asked PM’s counsel to inform the court about the duration of time he needs to complete his arguments. Makhdoom Ali Khan replied that he would advance arguments mainly on three points and would try to complete his arguments on Article 62 and 63 today (Tuesday).

Makhdoom Ali Khan said the apex court had jurisdiction to disqualify parliamentarians but it cannot disqualify the prime minister on the basis of his speeches under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

Makhdoom cited SC’s ruling when former PM Yousaf Raza Gillani was removed due to his failure to write to the Swiss government. He reiterated that in all cases of disqualification the decision was given after recording of evidence.

While Makhdoom was arguing, Taufeeq Asif, Jamaat-e-Islami’s counsel, demanded that PM’s counsel should furnish copies of cases he is citing, to which Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed remarked that since they do not represent their case, what he was going to do with those copies.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed that the cases he has been citing prove that SC had powers and is competent to hear this case. ‘The Honorable Court has decided after looking into the facts of each case and heard the parties,’ he replied while adding that the decision in dual nationality can’t be applied to the PM’s speech case.

Jamaat-e-Islami made a comeback by filing a new application before the bench as the court had told them last Wednesday that in their first application they had neither made Nawaz Sharif respondent nor prayed for his disqualification. JI’s counsel had pleaded before the bench that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif be called to the court when Justice Khosa pointed out that they hadn’t made PM respondent in their application and thus the court could make no such order.

In its new application Jamaat-e-Islami has prayed to disqualify PM as he ‘has been involved in illegal money/funds transfer abroad and made illegal investments in offshore company and concealed the property outside Pakistan, particularly flats in London (UK), and for evading taxes and be disqualified for not being ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Amin’ under Article 62 (1) (F).

During the hearing, the atmosphere of the Courtroom remained stiff as Advocate Makhdoom Ali Khan argued. While the judges actively asked questions and took full interest in the case, the monotony of proceedings pushed many PTI leaders over the edge as some of them were spotted dozing off in their seats.

Makhdoom Ali Khan quoted the decision of the court in the Rental Power case involving Raja Pervez Ashraf. He said the court hadn’t disqualified him. Makhdoom also argued that the speeches of the prime minister, issues of tax and dependency of Maryam Nawaz are three separate issues and he’ll address them separately.

After the break, PM’s counsel started his remarks by quoting the case of former President Rafiq Tarar when his nomination papers were rejected. ‘The Supreme Court ruled that a representative of the people can’t be de-seated on newspaper clippings,’ he argued.

During the second half, the arguments and remarks revolved around Article 66 of the Constitution that deals with privileges of members of parliament. PM’s counsel was asked harsh questions regarding the speech of the PM in Parliament. Makhdoom once again found solace in the constitution and said that they can be removed according to the dictates of supreme law of the land.

An interesting situation arose during the hearing when Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed asked PM’s counsel if Article 62 does not apply to wrong statements given in the parliament. Makhdoom said that there are decisions by Indian courts that it does not. Justice Azmat asked if the Indian constitution has the same article 62, to which Makhdoom replied that their constitution does contain words similar to ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Amin’.

The hearing has been adjourned till today (Tuesday).

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