Panamagate judgment: No disqualification but JIT to probe PM, sons

Published: April 20, 2017
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PML-N leaders celebrate SC verdict. PHOTO: TWITTER

PML-N leaders celebrate SC verdict. PHOTO: TWITTER

PML-N leaders celebrate SC verdict. PHOTO: TWITTER Security deployed outside SC. PHOTO: EXPRESS Policemen walk in front of the Supreme Court building ahead of its decision on a case related to the Panama Papers leaks, in Islamabad on Thursday, April 20, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS Tight security employed outside Supreme Court. PHOTO: EXPRESS Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: AFP Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: AFP Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: In a judgment that could possibly change the political landscape of Pakistan, the top court has declared that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family failed to justify how they accumulated their offshore assets. The five-judge apex court bench, however, could not reach a consensus on the disqualification of the premier and hence ordered the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) to settle the saga that started with the Mossack Fonseka leaks just over a year ago.

After the passage of almost two months, the bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, ended the suspense on Thursday with a split decision and a 547-page judgment.

Each judge wrote individual notes in the judgment. While all five were unanimous in their findings that Premier Sharif can be directly disqualified by the apex court, they are divided over the procedural course of action that should be taken in this particular case.

With one voice, PTI, PTI ask Nawaz to resign

Also of interest is the fact that Justice Asif Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmad – the next two judges in line to become chief justice of Pakistan – were both in favour of disqualifying the prime minister for failing to meet the constitutional requirement for honesty with the top court and the nation, but the majority, namely Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh and Justice Ijazul Ahsen, were in favour of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the Panamagate case further. The team would submit a report within 60 days of its formation.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who authored the judgment, observed that sufficient material has surfaced on the record to show that the premier, his dependents, and Benamidars acquired assets in the early nineties and thereafter which, being disproportionate to his known means of income, call for a thorough investigation.

Legal experts, however, wondered why the majority judgment was silent over the reinvestigation of Hudabya Paper Mills scam against the Sharif family. Likewise, the court did not give any observation over the conduct of the NAB chairman in that case. Surprisingly, the court also did not ask the premier’s daughter Maryam Nawaz to join the investigation before the JIT.

“By a majority of 3 to 2…we hold that the questions how did Gulf Steel Mill come into being; what led to its sale; what happened to its liabilities; where did its sale proceeds end up; and how did they reach Jeddah, Qatar and the UK,” the judges wrote.

They then move on to asking “whether Hussain and Hassan Nawaz, in view of their tender ages, had the means in the early nineties to purchase the flats, whether the sudden appearance of the letters of Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani is a myth or a reality; how bearer shares were converted into flats, who, in fact, is the real and beneficial owner of Nielsen Enterprises and Nescoll, how Hill Metal Establishment come into existence; where did the money for Flagship Investment Limited and other companies set up by respondent Hassan Nawaz  come from, where did the working capital for these companies come from, and where do the huge sums running into millions gifted by Hussain to the PM come in from.”

The judgment finds that these issues are enough to merit a thorough investigation.

JIT

The majority judges observed that in normal circumstances, such an exercise could be conducted by NAB, but when its chairman appears to be indifferent and even unwilling to perform his part, they are constrained and must look elsewhere. Therefore, a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) would be constituted with a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officer of the rank of additional director general or above to head the team. The official would be required to have firsthand experience of investigating white-collar crimes and related matters. He or she would be joined by a representative of NAB, a nominee of the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) familiar with money laundering and white-collar crimes, a nominee of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), a seasoned Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer nominated by its director general, and a seasoned Military Intelligence (MI) officer nominated by its director general.

PML-N gets breather, but for how long?

The majority judges’ order asked the heads of these departments to send in their respective nominee’s names within seven days so that they can be placed before the bench for nomination and approval.

“The JIT shall investigate the case and collect evidence, if any; showing that the PM or any of his dependents or Benamidars owns, possesses, or has acquired assets or any interest therein disproportionate to his known means of income,” says order.

The court has asked the PM and his both sons to appear and associate themselves with the JIT as and when required. The JIT may also examine the evidence and material, if any, already available with the FIA and NAB relating to or having any nexus with the possession or acquisition of the London flats or any other assets or pecuniary resources and their origin.

The JIT shall submit biweekly reports before a special bench – a request for its formation is part of the judgement. It has also been given a sixty-day deadline to file its final report.

Later, the bench may pass appropriate orders in exercise of its powers under articles 184, 187, and 190 of the Constitution including an order for filing a reference against the PM and any other persons associated with any crime if justified on the basis of the material brought on record before it.

The majority judges also held that upon receipt of the reports, periodic or final of the JIT, as the case may be, the matter of disqualification of the PM shall be considered, adding that if found necessary for passing an appropriate order in this regard, the premier or any other person may be summoned and examined.

Legal experts said that in view of this observation, the court has declared that they can disqualify the PM at an appropriate time.

KSE-100 finishes with 1,140-point gain as Panama case verdict announced

SC’s eight questions

How did Gulf Steel Mill come into being, what led to its sale, what happened to its liabilities, where did its sale proceeds end up, how did they reach Jeddah, Qatar and the UK

Did Hussain and Hassan Nawaz, in view of their tender ages, have the means in the early nineties to possess and purchase the flats

Whether sudden appearance of the letters of Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani is a myth or a reality;

How bearer shares crystallised into the flats,

Who is the real and beneficial owner of Nielsen Enterprises and Nescoll,

How did Hill Metal Establishment come into existence,

Where did the money for Flagship Investment Limited and other companies set up by Hassan Nawaz come from,

Where did the working capital for such companies come from and where do the huge sums running into millions gifted by Hussain to Nawaz drop in from

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Reader Comments (59)

  • Umer
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:04PM

    Fingers crossed….Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:11PM

    April 20 in history is not a good omen for the Sharif. The infamous Adolf Htler came to th world along with other unfortunate events on this date.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Ameer Qaisrani
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:11PM

    C’mon disqualify him for life!
    You do that to ordinary MPA’s/MNA’s for presenting fake degrees or hiding small properties, then why not Mr. Prime Minister?Recommend

  • irfan
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:19PM

    We now have Legal rights for corruption in PakistanRecommend

  • Aware Citizen
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:19PM

    Panama SC decision already come ! Now JIT to form ! and its out come will never come ! As many JIT made earlier. And its outcomes not came yet. Totally prolonged the long awaited.Court favored PMLN. PM NAWAZ. JUSTICE DELAYED. Recommend

  • over burdened citizen
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:19PM

    Justice in Pakistan…a fools hope…Recommend

  • J Khan
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:22PM

    NS saved again. As expected. Money talks!Recommend

  • Waqas
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:26PM

    At last cat came out of sack, if SC have to give this decision, why it’s waiting for and creating such a hype and mysterious situation.Recommend

  • Aware Citizen
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:28PM

    Free clean chit to PM!

    Realy Justice delayed ! Sad day in Pakistan History! Corrupts won !Recommend

  • Ehs
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:30PM

    I have lost all hope in Pakistan. Recommend

  • Irtiza
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:30PM

    I am sorry Pakistan :(Recommend

  • Hasan
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:31PM

    The judges must have used evidence, logic & reason to select the path of LEAST EVIL. U

    nder the other political options presently in Pakistan, the country will suffer more corruption & lawlessness as seen in provinces other than punjan.

    Pakistan Zindabad.Recommend

  • Last Man Alive
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:32PM

    Corruption Wins
    Pakistan Loses
    Recommend

  • Arshad Mehmood, Advocate
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:33PM

    As expected…JIT formed…PML-N survived for the time being at least for 60 days…hope JIT will work under the supervision of Supreme Court of Pakistan to avoid any chance of manipulation by the Mians…Recommend

  • Shan
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:33PM

    So what SC was doing for that many months just wasting time and money of the nation? If they cant decide if NS has contradictory and false statements ??Recommend

  • Sabi
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:36PM

    A win win decision is not a justice.
    Historical decision huh!Recommend

  • Ahs
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:38PM

    Pakistan has been defeated.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:38PM

    JIT will be formed by representatives of NAB,FIA and FBR who already in front of judiciary said they can’t do anything against NS….nothing will happen in this case our generations will be your salves NS..Thankyou Judiciary.Recommend

  • Lahori
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:40PM

    Justice delayed is justice denied.Recommend

  • Zulfiqar
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:42PM

    Infact there is no law for elites in Pakistan. No one can touch powerful people like Nawaz Sharif and his family. Today is the dark day for Pakistani justice system.Recommend

  • Basheer Pakistan
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:42PM

    I have no hope anymore for this countryRecommend

  • Kali
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:43PM

    Once again our trust on suprerm court gone in vain…. its a sheer disappointment on the verdict… our judges proved again that elite ruling class is above the law… God bless pakistan.Recommend

  • danish iqbal
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:49PM

    Its a joke with this Nation . I think we deserve this kind of treatment from our politicians . well done Supreme Court . ARecommend

  • Pakistani
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:50PM

    Insufficient evidence?!!?! Would a common man been able to get away with it under the same circumstances. Atleast two judges did agree to the disqualification, may be all is not lost. Recommend

  • Amir
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:50PM

    SC has just wasted everyone’s time. This they could have done in December. Long live corruption in PakistanRecommend

  • J
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:51PM

    This is nonsense….. Wasted one year… JIT has done nothing in the history of this country and nothing will change….

    The only reason SC has given such a utter useless verdict is to please both sides…

    This issue will now be dragged for few more months and then snap election will be announced.

    This is will never realize the importance of time, will never change.

    Hopeless!Recommend

  • Masood
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:52PM

    Some how PML N already knew the decision!Recommend

  • muhammad usman ali
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:53PM

    well.justice delayed is justice denied. pityRecommend

  • Saleem
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:53PM

    What is PML N celebrating? Two judges, one of whom to be future CJ, believe that PM is not Sadiq and Ameen. Besides it is reported that there are negatives against the Ruling Family. Recommend

  • maheen ayaz
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:53PM

    its not over.
    I hope IK will not lose hope here, it was expected anyway. we are still here to fight corruption. Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:53PM

    @Lahori: And justice denied for centuries to come. Let’s now build the tallest monument in the world to the futility of it all.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:53PM

    Well done Supreme Court…….at least you have been consistent in your rulings.Recommend

  • Mast
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:55PM

    3-2 decisions. Seems like a football match to me.Recommend

  • ghulam murtaza dahar
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:58PM

    pathetic decision. unable to understand why the supreme court took too much time just to make “JIT”. justice rest in peace in Pakistan. The miserable justice system in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Imran
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:58PM

    i am immigrating to papua new guniea the only nation that allows green passpprt holders to visit visa free. pakistan has no future. :(Recommend

  • Mast
    Apr 20, 2017 - 2:58PM

    Another inquiry commission created which will bring forward an investigative report. Maximum that can happen is it never comes up to surface as long as Sharif brothers are in charge of this lawless land. So whosoever is celebrating this, is happy on this pretext. Move on Pakistanis, injustice prevails!Recommend

  • Ehsan
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:01PM

    May Allah help poor and helpless people of pakistan.Recommend

  • JIT
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:03PM

    Justice delay with horror, Democracy death.
    Month (4) Day 20
    Decision is 420 (lolzzz)Recommend

  • danish iqbal
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:05PM

    I am ashamed as a Pakistani now. Recommend

  • islamabad
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:06PM

    today is the end.. Recommend

  • Hasan
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:06PM

    Im a true blue Pakistani. I love Pakistan. All those complaining of NS, should step outside punjab and SEE WITH OWN EYES what present day politicians have achieved or rather failed to achieve in sindh, kpk, balochistan.
    NS is the least evil of all evil politicians in Pakistan and under these circumstances pne must THINK !Recommend

  • ishtiaq Ahmed
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:10PM

    I think it is conditional reprieve for Nawaz Sharif. It is only fair to establish, beyond reasonable doubt, the culpability before passing a guilty verdict.Recommend

  • What
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:11PM

    Amazing decision, Ist SC mention NAB Fail to perform then formed JIT which include NAB who will investigate it, What a joke with Pakistan.Recommend

  • YP Misissauaga
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:13PM

    “This is the culture you’re raising your kids in. Don’t be surprised if it blows up in your face.”

    Marilyn Manson Recommend

  • Basheer Pakistan
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:14PM

    I have no hope for this country anymoreRecommend

  • Qami Baloch
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:14PM

    Black Day for Pakistan Recommend

  • Imran Khan
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:17PM

    Everyone now start doing corruption in Pakistan. Open invitation to allRecommend

  • Qamar Faruqui
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:18PM

    There is nothing in the judgement to remember even for one day what to talk of 20 yrs and centuries. If it was PPP prime minister he would have gone home today. Any way corruption legalized today but at very high level .Recommend

  • Saad
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:21PM

    Interesting example of bigotry: The same folks who were advocating for Mashal to be taken to court now blame the same justice system. Infact, all of these are part of the same mob – judge, jury, executioner. Welcome to wonderland of PTI trolls !!!Recommend

  • s caudhury
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:29PM

    Judges let Pakistan down againRecommend

  • Irfan
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:31PM

    Probe corruption! so what are they doing for the last several months. They just put the ball on JIT court, which can be bought easily. The whole system is down.Recommend

  • Honest Opinon
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:38PM

    PML-N supporters don’t even know what hit them. :DRecommend

  • Lolz
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:38PM

    Guys relax, the judges of supreme court are all Pakistani. What else were we expecting? Recommend

  • muhammad usman ali
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:42PM

    @Hasan:
    bachay.i am a much better choice than the nawaz. open up your mind..Recommend

  • shafiq ahmed
    Apr 20, 2017 - 3:45PM

    for 20 seconds decision kept remembered, another 20 year would be passed with remorse on the unfortunate fate of Pakistan, Sorry Pakistan Recommend

  • faisal
    Apr 20, 2017 - 4:37PM

    Imran Khan should relax and chill now, he could even think about his third wedding !!!Recommend

  • Ayub
    Apr 21, 2017 - 12:52AM

    Sharifs got everything they wanted: No more investigation into money laundering/Hudaibiya Mills, Maryam is no more under investigation, No SC Investigative commission rather JIT which Govt can manage easily. The entire judgement moans about the corruption of Sharifs but no action against Sharifs. I can’t believe that SC can do this. For me, SC has lost all credibility. But Salute to Justice Khosa and Justice Gulzar.Recommend

  • khalid
    Apr 21, 2017 - 1:49AM

    @over burdened citizen:
    yes, there is no justice in Pakistan but there are several retired justices here earning good money through their pensions.Recommend

  • Atif
    Apr 21, 2017 - 5:53AM

    All drama. Has anything ever come of a JIT?Recommend

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