KARACHI: Apparently the legal fraternity seems to be divided whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should stay in his office after the Supreme Court announced its verdict in the Panamagate case on Thursday.
Two judges of the five-judge bench ruled against the prime minister, while the other three were in favour of forming a Joint Investigation Team [JIT] to probe how the Sharif family’s money was transferred to Qatar.
Former advocate general Khalid Javed Khan, who belongs to the Pakistan Peoples Party, said the two Supreme Court [SC] judges’ dissenting note is a “clear indictment” of the premier and means that he is disqualified from the National Assembly.
However, Barrister Naimur Rahman was of the view that Sharif should not step down and wait for the JIT to submit its investigation report to the SC.
“It’s a very strong and serious conclusion of indictment,” the former AG said, adding that there are very serious findings of the bench members [minority and majority] that suggest strong evidence against the premier.
“On technical grounds he is still the prime minister till the JIT investigates him and his children, and the court passes any further order,” he said. “As the SC has ordered an inquiry, there remains no moral ground for Sharif to still sit in the PM’s office.”
He said Sharif ought to step down because he has to appear before the JIT.
“This is a judgment similar to that given in the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s case. In that case, the minority had acquitted him, but the majority of judges had convicted him,” he pointed out.
“But in Sharif’s case the minority of the bench members has convicted him, while it does not matter if majority wants further inquiry,” he reasoned, adding that the whole bench’s judgment is technically against him.
Expressing similar views, senior lawyer Abrar Hasan said two SC judges declared Sharif not ‘honest’ and ‘truthful’ [Ameen and Sadiq] in terms of articles 62 and 63 of Peoples Representation Act, 1976, while the majority [three judges] ruled that the JIT should investigate the matter to determine whether he is honest and truthful.
Hasan said morally the premier has lost and the opposition has won the battle.
However, Barrister Rahman said the premier should not vacate his office and wait till the IJT completes its investigation and submits a report to the SC. The matter should not be seen on the basis of the existing things, he added.
“Morally, none of the politicians deserve to be there,” he said. However, there should be accountability ‘everywhere’, he added.