Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer argued Tuesday that contradiction between the Prime Minister’s speech and his children’s statements can not provide ground to disqualify his client, saying his speech could not be produced before the court as evidence in Panamagate case.
Resuming his arguments on the 10th hearing of the Panamagate case before a five-member larger bench led by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, the Prime Minister’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan contended that Article 19 of the Constitution guaranteed freedom of expression to everyone.
To which, Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa observed that his client’s case doesn’t come under the preview of Article 19, adding that the Article guarantees right to express, whereas the counsel was seeking immunity in the case. Justice Khosa further remarked the court is not prosecuting the Prime Minister on the basis of his speech in the Parliament saying the court is deliberating on whether it could examine the Prime Minister’s speech or not in the current case.
He observed that these were not regular parliamentary proceedings as the Prime Minister volunteered to say something on the Panama papers issue, adding that committing a crime is not performance of official duty and the Parliament is not an island where one can do whatever he wants.
Referring the Prime Minister’s counsel’s argument that proceedings of the Parliament cannot be adjudicated in the court, Justice Khosa observed the apex court had declared in a case that speech to the members of the Parliament could be used as evidence.
A member of the bench Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh observed that privilege of parliamentarians to say something in the Parliament is not absolute under Article 66, adding that activity outside the Parliament does not fall under the preview of the immunity extended to the parliamentarian in the House under Article 66 of the Constitution.
Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh said while addressing Makhdoom Ali Khan that parliamentary immunity under Article 66 is not only for the Prime Minister but for the all parliamentarians, adding the question before the court is not about the Prime Minister’s speech on the floor of the House but it is about his address to the nation from outside the Parliament.
During the course of proceedings, Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa raised a question if a dispute between members of the Parliament world-wide could be brought to their courts or they have any immunity to such proceedings, adding that there are a lot of precedents that court can examine the proceedings of the Parliament.
Justice Khosa observed the Parliament legislates and the Supreme Court interprets these laws, saying there would be no issue if the apex court would have to examine the Prime Minister’s speech, adding the Prime Minster has no immunity, which is provided to President and governors under Article 248 of the Constitution.
Citing several judgements before the bench to establish that the Supreme Court has no powers to adjudicate against his client, Makhdoom Ali Khan contended that the matter in hand is not about disqualification of a Prime Minister but to disqualify a member of the Parliament.
Makhdoom Ali Khan argued that a speech made in Parliament cannot be scrutinised by the courts, adding that Prime Minister does not claim immunity from any proceedings under Article 248 of the Constitution.
Khan pleaded his client being an MNA is claiming the privilege of free speech like any other parliamentarian, saying the issue of privilege has been brought because a disqualification has been sought on the basis of a speech in the Parliament.
Makhdoom Ali Khan said that he also seeks privilege in the speech made by his client on the floor of the Parliament but not in the speech made before the nation May 5, 2016.
The bench then asked the Nawaz Sharif’s counsel to read out the statement made by Prime Minister in his address to the nation which he did wherein Prime Minister had said that he established Jeddah Mill after talking loan from the bank and later on sold out it and gave the money to his sons to invest it in other businesses.
Responding to Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa that Hussain Nawaz in an interview had said that he established the Jeddah Mills with his own name then “don’t you think so that the Prime Minister made a wrong statement before the nation while his son contradicted his statement,” Makhdoom Ali Khan said that it is the court to decide as to who gave a wrong statement.
Makhdoom Ali Khan added that even for the wrong statement of his son, the father cannot be disqualified.
Makhdoom Ali Khan submitted that PTI Chairman Imran Khan has falsely and maliciously stated that Nawaz Sharif filed wealth statements for TY 2011 and TY 2012 on 21st March and 22nd March 2013 respectively.
Terming the Imran Khan’s statement as false, Makhdoom Ali Khan said that acknowledgement slip of 2011 issued by the tax department confirms that his client submitted wealth statement for TY 2011 on November 21, 2011, adding that the wealth statement for TY 2012 was submitted on October 09, 2012.
Hearing of the matter was adjourned till Tuesday (today).
Meanwhile, filling additional documents in the apex court on Tuesday, one of the respondents, Maryam Safdar, daughter of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, informed that she had never been the dependent of her father since the time of her marriage in December 1992.
Her counsel Shahid Hamid in the Panamagate case filed the documents with a plea to take appropriate action against Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan for falsely maligning her. She submitted that her total income from both non-agricultural and agricultural sources during year 2012 remained Rs 2.31 million.
Giving details of her source of income, she submitted that her aggregate income was supplemented by her husband Captain Safdar (retd) salary and allowances that he has been drawing since 2008 as a member of the National Assembly. She submitted that her spouse has been paying tax since he joined the government service in 1986, adding that he was in the government service till exile to Jeddah.
The additional documents also contain details pertaining to wealth statement of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during the year 2010, wealth statement of Shamim Akhtar during the year 2010 as well as bank statements including those of Standard Chartered and HBL.
Maryam Safdar further submitted that she has been residing in one of the five houses at Raiwind Estate Lahore since shortly after her marriage and except for the period of exile in Jeddah from 2000 to 2007, she has continued to live there with her husband and three children.
She said that the occupants of other houses are Shamim Akhtar, Mian Shahbaz Sharif and the family of the late Abbas Sharif, adding the Sharif family members bear all the expenditures collectively. -Business Recorder