Findings not binding on SC: Justice Ejaz Afzal

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SC takes up jit report

Report exceeds mandate: Sharif’s family
Sophia Siddiqui

Islamabad

A three member bench of the Supreme Court constituted to oversee implementation of Panama case verdict began hearing of the high profile case on Monday with the focus now on the JIT findings.
PTI counsel Naeem Bukhari prayed the apex court to summon Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for cross examination, disqualify him from Parliament and send cases against him and his family to an accountability court.
Bukhari highlighted certain findings from the JIT report, including the alleged false testimony of Tariq Shafi, who is Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s cousin and a key respondent in the case.
Shafi recorded a false testimony earlier regarding an agreement that he made in 1980 with Abdullah Kayed Ahli, the owner of Ahli Steel Company, Dubai in which Shafi held 25 per cent shares, said Bukhari.
According to Shafi’s testimony, under the agreement signed at the time of the sale of the Sharif family’ s Gulf Steel Mills Shafi’s shares in Ahli’s company were sold and a net aggregate sum of 12 million dirhams was agreed upon.
Shafi stated that he had deposited the massive sum with Sheikh Fahad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani of Qatar, after receiving each instalment from Mohammad Abdullah Kayed Ahli.
The JIT sought legal assistance from the United Arab Emirates [in conducting its investigations] and found that the transaction of 12m dirhams never took place, Bukhari said.
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 were 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.
The counsel for Jamate Islami (JI) argued that the prime minister did not speak the truth during his speech in Parliament.
During proceedings, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who heads the bench, wondered if the JIT can trust the veracity of the documents while Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked the JI counsel to inform the bench to what extent could it implement the JIT’s findings and use its authority.
“The JIT’s findings against Sharif family are not binding on the Supreme Court,” he remarked.
Sheikh Rashid, presenting his arguments, said the nation was embarrassed to find out its prime minister is a paid employer of another company.
He termed Saifur Rehman and Sheikh Saeed as front men of Nawaz Sharif. Rehman is a former government official and an old associate of the Sharif family.
“Maryam is proven to be the beneficial owner of the London properties,” claimed Rashid. He said the nation stands with the judiciary and called for sending Nawaz Sharif to jail.
In his brief arguments, Khawaja Harris, the Sharif family’s lawyer, said a reference cannot be submitted on the basis of the JIT report. The JIT was doing what the courts do, he added.
Prior to the start of the proceedings, the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar submitted their responses on the JIT report and objected to the mode of the investigation.
They rejected the JIT report and stated that the investigators worked beyond their original mandate.
“JIT members exceeded their jurisdiction and authority conferred by law in obtaining documents from abroad, inter alia, by hiring private firms and thereby have not only wasted public time but also public money inrendering an incomplete, inconclusive and legally untenable and inherently defective report,” the document reads.
“Documents relied upon by the JIT, especially from foreign jurisdictions, have been illegally procured, none of these documents bear the attestation in accordance with law, nor are any of these documents in original,” it further states.
The statement also notes that a British litigation firm, Quist London, that was hired by the JIT to assist in the investigation belongs to Akhtar Raja, a cousin of JIT head Wajid Zia, which it claims “is illegal and unsupported by the law”. In light of these points, the statement says, none of these documents can be relied upon, nor can their contents be considered to form the basis of any averse finding against any of the Respondents. The hearing of the case was later adjourned till today.

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