ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its judgment on the petitions seeking disqualification of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan and secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen.
In a separate legal battle, Khan finally appeared before an anti-terrorism court (ATC) and obtained pre-arrest bails in four cases that were registered against him during his party’s 2014 sit-in against alleged rigging in 2013 elections.
The top court, meanwhile, closed the hearings in the disqualification petitions after the counsels representing Khan, Tareen and Abbasi concluded their arguments.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar headed the three-member bench – also comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Umar Ata Bandial – that heard the two petitions filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi for more than a year.
Reserving the judgment, the chief justice said, “The judgment should not be expected tomorrow. There are additional documents that both sides need to submit.”
In PTI chief’s case, counsel Naeem Bokhari maintained that his client had nothing to hide and if there was anything wrong with the documents he had submitted, the returning officer of the Election Commission of Pakistan would have rejected the nomination papers. “But that did not happen,” he said.
Justice Nisar asked Bokhari if non-declaration of salary in nomination papers amounted to mistake or false statement.
Justice Bandial also said there was a difference between hiding assets and making a mistake, as Khan did not disclose his euro account.
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Concluding his remarks, Khan’s counsel said it was for the court to draw a line between honesty and dishonesty.
After Bokhari’s argument, Abbasi’s counsel Akram Sheikh took to the rostrum. He said Bokhari had stated that non-declaration could be a mistake, but there was an example of Panamagate judgment as well (where a PM was disqualified over the same issue).
He added that Khan had mentioned his then wife Jamima Khan’s Bani Gala property in his nomination papers, but nothing about her accounts abroad.
To this, the chief justice replied that the court would look into all aspects of each and every account and find out who was speaking the truth.
Sheikh also submitted that Khan had shifted his stance more than 18 times, insisting that a habitual liar had a poor memory too. “The shifting of his position shows that he is not Sadiq and Ameen,” he added.
Justice Nisar replied, “The biggest advantage of speaking the truth is that one needs not remember what he had said earlier.” He also said that he would ask both Khan and Tareen a question after his retirement.
The court reserved its judgment and immediately started hearing into the disqualification case against Tareen.
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The bench asked Tareen’s counsel Sikander Bashir whether he had inquired about the Hyde House property in London. Bashir told the court that the property was owned by Shiny View Limited, an offshore company. The Hyde House was also registered with Shiny View Limited, he added.
The chief justice asked the lawyer where the money to buy the property had come from. “Did Tareen give the money to the trust to buy the property?”
The lawyer explained that his client had given the money to the trust. He said Shiny View was established in 2017 and his client sent the money to the trust from his lawful income.
Bashir was adamant in making the bench realise that Tareen was the beneficial owner of the offshore company.
“Tareen has shown us the complete money trail and he is a lifetime beneficiary of the trust,” Justice Arab maintained.
The chief justice pointed out that Tareen had transacted his money directly to the offshore company and not through the trust.
The defence counsel replied, “The offshore company is registered under the trust. The trust is a legal entity.”
The chief justice then observed that there were discrepancies between Tareen's responses to the court and a trust deed submitted earlier before the bench.
Justice Bandial told Bashir that since Tareen was a beneficiary of the trust, he should have declared it in his nomination papers. The defence counsel apologised to the bench for the mistakes in drafting the documents.
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Abbasi’s counsel Azid Nafees told the court that Tareen's children were not the beneficiaries of the trust yet.
“It appears to be true that the children are not the beneficiaries,” the chief justice said.
The court then reserved its verdict in the case against Tareen also.
Separately, Khan obtained pre-arrest bails in four cases pertaining to attacks on PTV, Parliament House, SSP Asmatullah Junejo and violation of the loudspeaker act during the 2014 sit-in in Islamabad.
ATC-II Judge Shahrukh Arjumand granted the bail before arrest against a surety of Rs200,000 each in four cases registered against him with directions to “join the police investigation today [November 14]”.
Regarding the pre-arrest bails, the ATC issued a notice to the state directing it to produce record and present arguments on the next date of hearing – November 24, 2017.
In the SSP Junejo case, the ATC was informed about of the details of assets owned by Khan.
The court had earlier issued notices to the relevant police stations and revenue boards seeking details of the assets held by Khan, as well as Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahir-ul Qadri, as a first step towards the attachment of their properties due to the continuous absence of both the accused from the court.
Islamabad administration informed the court that on October 13 the land measuring 300 kanals in Bani Gala was purchased by the PTI chairman in the name of his first wife through “Benami transaction”.
In a report, the revenue officials stated that when the land was purchased neither any NOC from the Ministry of Interior nor any CNIC of Khan’s ex-wife Jemima Khan was produced to the revenue officer.
In addition, the report mentioned that when the land was purchased Jemima did not appear before the revenue officer. Only in one mutation out of five, Maj (retd) Pervaiz Malik appeared and no one else appeared on her behalf.
The report read that the “land of 300 kanals was basically purchased by Imran Khan in the name of Jemima Khan through Benami transaction [mentioned in the power of attorney given by Jemima]”.
The report was submitted in compliance with ATC’s order directing the Islamabad’s chief commissioner and the inspector general of police to furnish details of properties belonging to two high-profile absconders, Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri, in the Junejo case over their failure to appear before the court.
“After separation/divorce between me and Mr Imran Khan Niazi, I do not intend to keep the land with me,” Jemima had stated. Thus, the report read, the land was transferred as a gift to Khan by Jemima and sanctioned by the revenue officer Imtiaz Janjua on January 29, 2005.
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In the same document, the officials stated that later on the same land was transferred through “Hibba” in the name of Khan. “Since the land was purchased by Khan through Benami transaction in the name of Jemima Khan the cost of land must have been paid by Khan,” the report read.
And in the cases of attacks on PTV and parliament, leaders and more than a hundred workers and supporters of the PTI and the PAT were booked. The workers, who were arrested during the 2014 PTI and PAT sit-ins, were later released on bail in the cases.
On August 31, 2014, in an attempt to topple the PML-N government, workers from the PTI and the PAT had marched on parliament and the Prime Minister House while clashing with policemen along the way. At least three protesters died and hundreds of protesters and policemen were injured.
On September 1, 2014, hundreds of men, allegedly protesters from the PTI and PAT camps, ransacked the PTV office and parliament premises.
The court officials revealed that Khan and Qadri were also booked in a case for violating the loudspeaker act during the sit-ins.
For several nights in a row, the protestors had slept on the ground. They faced harsh weather conditions but continued to believe that their leaders would successfully topple the PML-N government.
The sit-ins, however, ended in the wake of the Peshawar school massacre.