SC has choice to hear case or send to Accountability Court

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No evidence of corruption found against PM: Khawaja Harris
Sophia Siddiqui

Islamabad

A three member special bench of the Supreme Court constituted to oversee implementation of Panama Leaks case on Wednesday observed that they have to decide whether to hear the case themselves or send it to an accountability court
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who heads the bench, said they also have to see if there is anything in the documents linking the prime minister to the case.
On Wednesday, the bench also repeatedly inquired from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Harris regarding the money trail of the London properties.
Justice Ijaz remarked that the prime minister said he would provide a money trail of all the properties but he did not explain when he bought the properties and from where he generated funds for their purchase.
Everything is clear except for the ownership of the London properties, observed the bench. Harris said the prime minister is not the owner of the London flats.
Justice Ijaz remarked that the question as to how the funds reached London from Dubai, Qatar and Saudi Arabia has still not been answered. He commented if the main question is answered, the matter will be settled.
Harris claimed that the prime minister’s late father, Mian Sharif, used to handle the family’s business affairs.
Justice Ijaz remarked that the prime minister knew what he was saying in the National Assembly when he claimed he would provide the money trail of the London flats.
“The tragedy is that there are no documents to prove who the real owner of the London properties is,” remarked Justice Azmat.
Before concluding his arguments, Harris requested the bench to note that Nawaz Sharif, during his entire term in public office in the last four decades, has not been accused of any corruption or financial misappropriation.
Presenting his arguments, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s counsel Tariq Hassan informed the bench that the JIT unnecessarily dragged his client into the case.
The bench came down hard on Hassan, observing that his client refused to provide the JIT with the necessary documents to support his case.
In response to a question from the bench, Hassan claimed Imran Khan’s petition did not directly accuse Ishaq Dar of anything.
He also said the JIT had wrongly accused the finance minister of not submitting his tax returns of 2001-02, adding that these findings could lead to a trial against his client.
In response, Justice Ijaz remarked that the counsel will be given a complete chance to defend his client if the matter goes to trial.
Referring to the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case, Justice Azmat observed that Dar was a suspect and gave a ‘confessional’ statement.
Hassan responded saying the statement, taken under duress, was later retracted by Dar and thus the matter stands closed and cannot be reopened.
When Dar’s counsel said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has closed the case file, Justice Ejaz remarked that didn’t the court direct the NAB chairman to reopen the case. Justice Azmat added that should the bench close its eyes to everything.
Responding to Hassan’s assertion that his client is not related to the case in any way, Justice Ijaz remarked that the company of Dar’s son, Ali, received funds from Hill Metals Establishment. “We have told you the entire connection now,” the judge remarked. Justice Azmat directed the counsel to provide additional documents, saying “You will be given a complete chance to defend your case”.
“Had the JIT examined my documents they would have realised my client’s assets actually decreased over the years,” commented Hassan.
Justice Ijaz responded saying the JIT asked your client regarding his businesses and earnings but he refused to answer citing privilege. “You opted not to share documents. How can you say you revealed the facts then,” the judge remarked, observing further that this approach was adopted by everyone in the case not just Dar. “Your assets jumped from Rs9 million in 1993 to Rs854 million in 2000,” the judge commented further. Justice Azmat said the bench could have made its decision without taking into account the counsel’s objections. “Answer the allegations against you in a trial court,” observed Justice Ijaz.
When asked, Hassan said the NAB, Federal Board of Revenue and Election Commission of Pakistan have not found any discrepancy in Dar’s records.

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