ISLAMABAD: A judge of the Supreme Court’s special bench hearing the Panamagate case on Monday observed that the documents related to the prime minister’s employment in Capital FZE were not the ‘source documents’, but came through the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) on the request of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT).
Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh was referring to a key document submitted by the six-member probe team to confirm that the prime minister was employed with the Capital FZE as its board chairman from August 6, 2006 to April 20, 2014.
The document – a letter from Shehab Sultan Mesmar of the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) dated July 4 – has been issued in response to the JIT’s query over the offshore company’s ownership.
The JIT stated in its report that Nawaz had been the chairman of the board for Capital FZE from August 7, 2006 to April 20, 2014, and was receiving a salary of 10,000 dirhams. The salary was revised on February 2, 2007 vide Employment Contract Amendment Form 9 – duly signed by the respondent No 1, i.e. the prime minister – filed with JAFZA.
According to legal experts, the documents related to Capital FZE are certified as they have been obtained through the MLA under Section 21 of the NAO 1999. Even the PML-N lawyers fear that the documents could create trouble for the PM as question on his qualification may arise in view of the JIT’s findings on that document.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan also observed that the JIT had established that some months of salary had been received.
Naeem Bukhari, the counsel for PTI chief Imran Khan, also contended that the record showed the salary was released to the prime minister from the offshore company in June and August 2013.
However, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, heading the three-judge bench, observed: “It is debatable whether these documents, which have been collected by the JIT, are acceptable without questioning the person(s), who signed them.”
“Can we say that the JIT’s report has been proved beyond doubt,” he asked the PTI’s counsel.
Justice Ejaz also observed that the JIT’s findings were not binding on the Supreme Court “because it is the court’s discretion how it takes them”.
Surprisingly, the PTI’s counsel also stated that the JIT’s findings were not binding on the court because it was a matter between the Supreme Court and the JIT.
Likewise, Bukhari seemed unable to assist the court about the admissibility of the JIT evidence.
When the bench asked him to assist it regarding the consequences of the JIT findings, Bukhari submitted that the court should disqualify the prime minister under Article 62(1)(f) in view of the JIT report.
“Likewise, if the bench feels necessary, then the prime minister should be summoned and cross-examined,” he added.
The PTI chief’s counsel also stated that the Sharif family also forged the documents as it was also established by the JIT.
Justice Ejaz remarked that they would open Volume X of the report for transparency.