ISLAMABAD: The top body of lawyers has suggested the apex court take suo motu notice of the alleged money laundering and corruption of politicians and their family members as exposed by the Panama Papers.
While the government has written a letter to the chief justice to form a judicial commission under the inquiry act, different associations of lawyers are also mulling over the course of action.
Amid the controversy, the executive committee of the Pakistan Bar Council met under the chairmanship of its vice-chairman Dr Farogh Naseem on Saturday.
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After detailed discussions over Panama leaks, the PBC called upon every parliamentary political party to form a consensus on the terms of reference (ToRs) for the Panama commission within seven days.
Otherwise, the lawyers suggested, the Supreme Court should convert the federal government’s letter and the media reports on Panama leaks into a suo motu petition.
“If in the history of Pakistan there is one case which the Supreme Court should take cognizance, it is the present issue. It is rather the call of the nation the court should interfere,” reads the PBC statement issued after the huddle.
The bar council has also called upon the apex court to finally settle the Panama commission’s ToRs, investigate the matter as deemed fit by it either itself or through a commission.
Though the council rejected the ToRs put forward by the government, it believed there was no need to make a special law for the investigation of Panama leaks contrary to the stance of opposition political parties and the Supreme Court Bar Association.
“It is alright with us if the probe of this matter is done under Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1956,” Farogh said while talking to reporters after the meeting.
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The PBC statement also said the commission having powers under the Civil Procedure Code may bind any person against whom investigation are being conducted to authorise seeking complete details from offshore companies and accounts.
The council observed the attempt to launch an inquiry regarding deciphering the “involvement of Pakistani citizens”, per the second paragraph of the proposed ToRs was not in consonance with section 3(1) of the 1956 act.
“An attempt to involve all citizens of Pakistan named in the Panama leaks or likely to be named in relation thereto is an unfortunate attempt to delay the proposed inquiry so the matter is lost in the annals of history. Rather, the inquiry ToRs should specifically name the person or persons who are to be investigated through the proposed inquiry,” the PBC statement said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2016.