Hearing the Panamagate case Tuesday, the Supreme Court raised three key questions to be asked from the counsel for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif: Had Nawaz Sharif been benefiting from Mayfair properties directly or indirectly? Was he behind the purchase of the London flats for his children? Did he avoid speaking the truth during speeches which can bring him under Articles 62 and 63 of constitution?
Resuming the hearing, a five-member larger bench led by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali observed that if the matter is related to the tax evasion then Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is the appropriate forum to deal with it.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s counsel Naeem Bokhari while completing arguments in the matter said that Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz are dependents of Nawaz Sharif, alleging that the Prime Minister intentionally concealed the facts for tax reasons.
Bokhari urged the bench to resume the hearing of the case on a day-to-day basis to which a member of the bench, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh, said, “Don’t worry, it’s the court’s business.
You would be given the right of rebuttal.” President Awami Muslim League Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who is also one of the petitioners in the case, said that his plea is “short and smart”, adding he drew the attention of Speaker National Assembly, Election Commission of Pakistan, FBR, National Accountability Bureau, Ministry of Law towards the issue but nobody was ready to deal with the matter.
Rashid said that AED12 million of the Sharif family that started rolling in 1980 are not going to end which multiplied and surfaced in the UAE then in Qatar and finally in London.
Rashid said if there was no column in the tax return to show dependents in 2013 then Nawaz Sharif could disclose dependents in other columns, alleging that hiding the money is a trait of the Sharif family. He was of the view that the Sharif family should declare their assets in the wealth statement, which they gained through offshore companies.
To which, a member of the bench, Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, observed if the income tax form was not filled in correctly then who would be responsible for the mistake.
Rashid submitted that Maryam Nawaz may have no tax number whereas he also expressed doubts over the authenticity of trust deed of the Prime Minister’s daughter and his son Hassan Nawaz, which she signed on February 2, 2006 and her brother in England signed the same after two days.
Commencing his arguments on behalf of Prime Minster in the matter before the bench, former Attorney General for Pakistan Salman Aslam Butt said he will assist the court on three issues: dependency of Maryam Nawaz; agreement of Mian Sharif in the UAE during 1978; and response over the PTI allegations about tax evasion of Nawaz Sharif.
Butt said, “My client didn’t hide anything, as no dependent except his wife Kulsoom Nawaz was there when he submitted tax returns for the year 2011-12.”
Butt contended that Maryam Nawaz has been independent since 1992 after her marriage, saying his client submitted election declaration of NA-120, Lahore, correctly, whereas there was no column available for dependents’ names in the wealth tax return of 2013. Butt further said that in 2015, the FBR added a new column to the tax return under SRO 841-I of 2015, where neither any asset of Maryam Nawaz nor her dependency was shown in tax return.
Salman Aslam Butt told the court that during 2011 a total of 142 kanals of land was purchased in the name of Maryam Nawaz and the price was paid by Nawaz Sharif; however, Maryam Nawaz returned the price to his father in 2012 and the fact has been shown in the tax return.
To which, Justice Khosa asked from Butt how much the amount was that a father received from his daughter. Responding to the court, Butt said, “Both the situations to give or receive gifts by my clients become an issue so where else we can go?” Later, the bench adjourned the hearing till December 07 (today).
INP adds: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Anwar Zaheer Jamali on Tuesday said the court was keeping an open mind on the idea of forming a commission on Panamagate, saying it will make one when it feels the need for it. Justice Jamali was responding to Jamaat-e-Islami’s request of forming an inquiry commission with the mandate to investigate the matter.
On December 3, JI chief Sirajul Haq had submitted a fresh application with a request to constitute an inquiry commission. He had also requested that the court make all the family members, including children, companies and business entities of those whose names had surfaced in the Panama Papers leaks a party to the case.