SC reserves judgment in Panamagate case

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa says court will announce its verdict in accordance with the law and Constitution

Hasnaat Malik February 23, 2017
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pictured alongside senior PML-N leaders. PHOTO: PPI

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict in the ongoing Panamagate case.

Heading a five-judge bench of the apex court hearing a slew of petitions against Sharif family, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa observed that 26,000 pages were submitted in the Panamagate case and the judges will read “each word” of it. He observed that it was not a case wherein a short order could be passed.

“The court will decide the case only after considering the material submitted in the court and will announce its verdict in accordance with the law and Constitution,” Justice Khosa remarked.

Earlier, when the hearing of the case resumed, the top court questioned the federal government’s recent LNG deal with Qatar.

In response to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s counsel Naeem Bukhari’s plea that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-led government had awarded a 20-year contract for import of LNG with Qatar to reward a prince, who had come to the rescue of the ruling Sharif family in the Panama Papers scandal, Justice Gulzar Ahmad observed that if the government signed the deal to bestow favours to Qataris then it may be conflict of interest.

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The apex court’s five-judge larger bench asked the PTI counsel to inform the court about the status of the LNG contract. To this, Bukhari said the matter had been challenged before the Sindh High Court.

During the proceedings, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed that it was yet to be established that the Sharif family’s four apartments in London’s Park Lane neighbourhood were purchased in 1993. The judge also questioned the authenticity of the PTI documents submitted in the court to establish the petitioner’s claims regarding the London properties.

“The court cannot give a judgment on the basis of disputed material,” he remarked. “Are we supposed to dispose the normal law of land and entertain the documents which have not come through proper custody?”

However, Justice Khosa observed: “If we do not entertain PTI documents then Sharif family’s documents will also not be accepted on the same basis.” He remarked that if the court applied the same formula then 99 per cent of the documents pertaining to the case will have to be “thrown away”.

Justice Khosa also observed that it was unfortunate that a trend had developed in the society that “justice is whatever has been done in our favour”. “If court issues a verdict against anyone then it is deemed that the judge has been bribed,” he said.

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Meanwhile, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed appeared before the bench and submitted a list of 371 questions which were raised by the SC bench during the Panamagate hearing but the Sharifs’ counsels did not give answers to those queries. “This is the last chance to give punishment to the corrupt people and if the court will not do so then the country will be governed through undemocratic forces,” Rasheed said.

In his concluding remarks, the PTI counsel said Hudabiya Paper Mills scam against the Sharif family was at the centre of money laundering.

Before conclusion of the proceedings, PTI chief Imran Khan and Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq came at rostrum and briefly addressed the bench.

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