ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will not be able to produce Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s nomination papers for the 1997 general election, which may create a hurdle in the ruling party’s attempt to get him disqualified over allegations of concealing assets.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on September 12 questioned why Khan failed to disclose his ownership of a flat in London in his 1997 nomination papers, while also referencing the basis for Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification in the Panama Papers case. Khan eventually disclosed ownership of the flat in London under a 2001 tax amnesty scheme.
Imran dismisses claims he concealed assets through offshore company
Akram Sheikh, counsel for Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi, had written a letter to the ECP secretary seeking Khan’s nomination papers for the five constituencies in which he contested the 1997 elections. He had lost in all five.
Sheikh told The Express Tribune that the ECP had shown its inability to provide Khan’s nomination papers for the 1997 general election. He added that an amendment was made in election laws in 1996 wherein candidates could be disqualified from contesting elections on the basis of concealment of the assets.
Sheikh contended that Khan would be disqualified under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution for concealing his London flat in his nomination papers as well as omissions regarding the ownership of assets in annual returns he submitted in the years 2003, 2004, and 2005.
PTI’s lawyer Chaudhry Faisal contends that Khan could not be disqualified on these grounds as he was not public office holder at that time. He called Abbasi’s petitions inadmissible, saying that the SC should reject them.
Khan lost in all five constituencies in the 1997 elections. He was, however, elected to public office for the first time in the 2002 general election.
Admitted, undisputed facts yield a decision: CJP
Likewise, Sheikh had also sought the record of nomination papers, accompanying documents, the list of assets and liabilities for the election years 2002 and 2013, and records of annual growth in assets and tax returns as mandated by the Representative of People’s Act.
In response to Sheikh’s letter, the ECP will only be providing all annual returns records, which will be submitted to the Supreme Court on Saturday (today).
The PML-N legal team is claiming that the ECP’s record shows that Khan concealed details of his assets and liabilities in the annual returns he filed in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. Copies of these annual returns are also available with The Express Tribune.
The record shows that Khan did not mention details about the claimed loan taken from his wife Jemima Khan to purchase land in Banigala in the returns submitted for 2003 and 2004.
Likewise, he did not either provide any details of the amount for which he acquired his London flat. In his 2006 return, however, Khan ‘revealed’ for the first time that the 300 kanals in Banigala were gifted to him.
The PML-N lawyers believe that these omissions are enough to disqualify Khan under Article 62. One member also questioned why Khan kept his offshore company alive 12 years after the sale of the London flat.
Imran asks ECP to focus on its real job
Meanwhile, independent legal experts also questioned whether the bench would be willing to disqualify Khan on the basis of these alleged omissions.
The three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Nisar, will resume hearing of Abbasi’s petition seeking Khan’s disqualification on the basis of concealment of assets on Monday.
The same bench has already conducted 26 hearings in the case. In the last hearing, the bench raised several questions on the money trail given by Khan for the Banigala land. It is expected that Khan’s attorney Naeem Bukhari will submit responses to the queries raised by the SC in the next hearing.
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