ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on Thursday sought the money trail of Lahore High Court (LHC) Justice Muhammad Farrukh Irfan Khan’s offshore assets.
The five-member SJC, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, took up for hearing the reference against the high court judge after accepting his application seeking a public trial of the case pending adjudication against him.
Justice Irfan is facing a reference after his name surfaced in the 2016 Panama Papers for having offshore assets. He was issued a show-cause notice by the SJC in February 2017.
As the council resumed hearing a complaint of misconduct against the high court judge, the prosecution informed the council that the regional tax officer had issued a notice to Justice Irfan for allegedly not declaring an offshore company in his tax returns.
A representative of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), while appearing before the council, also presented the record of five companies held by the judge within Pakistan.
“It has been recognised that the judge set up the companies,” Justice Nisar remarked, adding that foreign properties had been purchased through offshore companies.
“Where did the money to purchase the property abroad come from?” he questioned. The top judge also inquired whether the funds had been earned abroad or transferred from Pakistan.
“The judge has to explain the money trail himself and be answerable for his purchase,” he said.
After Regional Tax Officer Sarmad Qureshi presented Justice Irfan’s tax returns before the council, Advocate Hamid Khan, who was representing the judge, argued that the SJC had asked for tax returns from years 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The SJC, however, dismissed Advocate Khan’s objection after the prosecution lawyer stated Justice Irfan’s tax returns beyond 2010 were available on record.
The prosecution lawyer revealed that Qureshi had brought with him the judge’s tax returns from 2001 and 2002, along with records of his wealth tax. Justice Irfan had not filed tax returns between 2003 and 2006, he added.
After hearing the officials, the SJC allowed Justice Irfan’s lawyer to present records showing his money trail until the next hearing.
The hearing of the reference was adjourned until January 8.