The government is still unable to notify the high-level judicial inquiry commission announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the wake of the Panama Papers leaks as two former members of the superior judiciary have refused to take up the task.
Nawaz’s two sons and a daughter have been named in the documents leaked from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca for owning offshore businesses. While denying any wrongdoing, the PM has announced a judicial probe into the allegations against his family.
A senior official told The Express Tribune two former Supreme Court judges – Justice (retd) Nasirul Mulk and Justice (retd) Sair Ali – have shown unwillingness to lead the high-level inquiry commission.
“Now the government officials are also contacting other
retired judges but no one has given a positive response to take up this task till now,” he said, while speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Sources said no credible retired judge will show willingness to be part of the probe in view of the opposition parties’ reservations over formation of the commission under retired judges.
While legal experts believe that it will be difficult for the incumbent superior judiciary to accept the government’s request to give a judge for probing the Panama Papers, the government, according to an official, is also not interested to form the commission under a serving judge.
“If a reasonable retired judge is not available then the government may consider the offer of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Ali Zafar to probe the Panama Papers leaks,” he said, adding that a senior official had already consulted Zafar, seeking his point of view on the commission.
The SCBA president has also urged the judiciary to refrain from taking up the issue.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, State Minister Zahid Hamid and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Law Barrister Zafarullah are busy finalising the Terms of Reference (ToRs) of the proposed commission.
A senior lawyer associated with the ruling PML-N, however, expressed wonder over the prime minister’s announcement to form an inquiry commission, adding that the pronouncement was made in haste and now the ToRs should be made after overseeing all legal implications.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2016.