“The Panama Papers verdict was based on hiding of facts, not on the intent to give false statements,” Chief Justice Saqib Nisar remarked on Wednesday while hearing a petition against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Secretary General Jahangir Tareen.
In July, the apex court had disqualified the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif for failing to declare his iqama and a salary he had received from his son’s Dubai-based company.
“We are looking to see if those who hold public office, who govern the country, have engaged in corrupt practices or used their office for their own benefit,” said the chief justice while presiding over a three-member bench of the apex court, comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Umar Atta Bandial. “We do not want the sword of disqualification hanging over our parliamentarians.”
The petition filed by PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi seeks the disqualification of Tareen and PTI Chief Imran Khan over the alleged non-disclosure of assets, existence of offshore companies, as well as receiving foreign funding for PTI.
During the hearing of the case, Tareen’s lawyer, Sikander, told the court that Abbasi had filed a petition against Tareen for political reasons, not for the public interest.
Defending his client against the allegation of having loans written off, the lawyer told the court that Tareen had never taken any loans.
“There is no proof that Tareen used his position in the public office to get loans written off,” the chief justice observed.
Sikander said that his client had been accused of hiding off-shore companies, making false statements before the Election Commission of Pakistan, getting loans written off and providing incorrect information to the Federal Board of Revenue.
The lawyer said that his client was not the beneficial owner of any off-shore company.
“We should have heard the case against Imran Khan and Jahangir Tareen along with the Panama Papers case,” the chief justice remarked during the hearing. “Why were the cases against Khan and Tareen kept separate from the central case?”
The lawyer told the bench that his client’s name had not appeared on the Panama Papers list.
The chief justice noted that while it had been reported that 38 hearings of the disqualification case had been held, “nobody talked about the caution and calm with which these hearings were conducted.”
“We do not want anybody to be wronged,” he added while concluding the hearing.The next hearing is set to take place today at 11am.