ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will hand down on Thursday a judgment the nation has been waiting for with bated breath since February 23.
A five-judge larger bench of the apex court – headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa – will announce its judgment on a slew of petitions seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the wake of explosive disclosures of the Panama Papers.
The bench had reserved its verdict on February 23 after hearing out attorneys from both sides. The verdict will be announced in Courtroom 1 at 2pm and only those possessing security clearance passes will be allowed in, according to a notification issued by the Supreme Court registrar on Tuesday.
The five judges on the bench have given their individual input in writing, keeping in view the significance of the case.
“Normally, one judge writes [a] judgment and his fellows endorse it. Here, every member of the larger bench is writing his own note,” a source told The Express Tribune. To keep things airtight, one of the judges is said to have penned down the judgment on his personal laptop.
Panamagate verdict will last for centuries: judge
On April 11, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, a member of the larger bench, observed that the Panamagate verdict would not just concern the Sharif family, but it would, in fact, set in motion a law which would last for centuries.
Legal experts expect the bench will interpret Articles 62, 63 and 66 of the Constitution to set parameters for qualification and disqualification of lawmakers in the future. Article 66 specifically talks about the privileges given to MPs.
On February 23, Justice Khosa had observed that 26,000 pages were submitted in the Panamagate case and the judges would read ‘each word’ of them. 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 the Constitution,” Justice Khosa had remarked.
SC reserves judgment in Panamagate case
The ruling was delayed by more than a month – at first because all the judges were in different registries of the apex court and then because all five of them were giving their individual input in writing due to the importance of the case.
Despite the weeks-long wait, everyone in Pakistan has been on the edge of their seats, with politicians especially anxious as their future course of action depends on the outcome of the judgment.
In particular, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which filed one of the petitions against the Sharif family, had voiced concern over the delay saying it was creating uncertainty among the general public.
The Panama Papers on April 3 revealed that Premier Sharif’s three children were among dozens of powerful people who own offshore companies in international tax havens. The revelations had whipped up a storm with political parties calling for the Sharif family’s accountability.
In a written response to the Panamagate petitions submitted before the Supreme Court in November last year, the premier denied holding any offshore companies, said he had declared all his assets in 2013 and argued that he was not liable for disqualification under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.
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