Supreme Court on Thursday observed that only authenticated documents would be considered as admissible evidence to decide the Panamagate case.
Concluding his arguments on behalf of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif before a five-member larger bench led by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Makhdoom Ali Khan contended that establishing offshore companies has never been illegal.
Khan told the bench that the government had also established two offshore companies which own two Pakistani state’s properties overseas – Roosevelt Hotel in the US and Scribe Hotel in France. To which, Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa remarked that establishing offshore company is not illegal but hiding illegal money through offshore companies is illegal indeed.
Terming the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification or qualification a matter of public importance, Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa remarked the apex court can examine the issue while exercising its powers under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution.
However, Makhdoom Ali Khan made it clear that he is not raising objection over the maintainability of the petition against his client but wants to say that Supreme Court cannot disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on grounds of petitioners’ documentary evidence.
Khosa observed that the instant case relates to the whole of the nation as the Prime Minister is a party to the case. Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh observed that the matter before the apex court is about qualification of the Prime Minister, saying the Supreme Court cannot disqualify the PM by relying on unverified documents.
During the course of hearing, Makhdoom Ali Khan handed over to the bench a book regarding alleged corruption of Nawaz Sharif. The book, which is authored by Raymond Baker, has been cited by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s counsel in his arguments.
Terming the book’s excerpts an opinion of the author, Justice Khosa said the court cannot rely on it; and in a lighter vein he told the counsel that the number of judges is five but the book is one. Makhdoom Ali Khan replied that he would provide the copies of Baker’s book to other members of the bench as well.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed smilingly, “Let Justice Khosa read it then we will ask what he read from the book?” Responding to arguments of Makhdoom Ali Khan, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed that the court accepts only verified documents as evidence, adding that under Section 78 of Qanoon-e-Shahadat, no material can be taken into account unless its author appears in the court. Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan said that a verdict cannot be given on grounds of assumptions.
“If a person is convicted, he is imprisoned but if a person is disqualified then he is disqualified for ever,” Makhdoom Ali Khan argued, saying some four limits are established which cannot be crossed over by the court. Justice Gulzar Ahmed asked the Prime Minister’s counsel if these limits are abolished then where the counsel will be standing. Makhdoom Ali Khan replied he will stand within the limits of law.
Khan while citing the Murree Brewery and other cases requested the bench to consider its verdicts in which it had decided the matters about hearing cases which do not fall in the jurisdiction of the court. He requested the bench to consider the SC verdicts delivered about the jurisdiction of the court in relation to hearing a case.
Terming the citations obsolete, Justice Khosa observed new jurisprudence has been developed which is different from the four decades old one. Khan also cited a number of cases to substantiate his arguments including the Nusrat Bhutto case and the Wali Khan case, decided on the grounds of news published in the papers to which Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh said, “Do you want to embarrass the judges?”
Justice Khosa observed that lawyers lose new cases while citing references of old books. Khan argued if a matter is under adjudication before the Election Commission or the High Court, the apex court will have to decide the matter after the decision of the Commission or the High Court, saying references have been filed against Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar before the Election Commission of Pakistan, whereas appeals are pending in the Lahore High Court to disqualify both the dignitaries.
To which Justice Khosa observed that the matter in hand has many dimensions, saying the court has to examine a question of law if disqualification of the premier could be sought in constitutional or criminal proceedings. He added when the then President, Ishaq Khan, dissolved the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government under Article 58(2) B and the matter was pending before the High Court, even then the apex court heard the matter.
Khan argued that the apex court has no powers to hear a matter against executive orders, saying when Ghulam Ishaq Khan dissolved the government of Nawaz Sharif in 1993 the apex court had examined whether or not the President exercised his powers in accordance with the provision of the Constitution.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan said that allegations have been levelled against chairmen of Federal Board of Revenue and National Accountability Bureau in the current matter so the court would have to hear them as well. Later, the hearing of matter was adjourned till Friday (today). The counsel for Jamaat-e-Islami will commence arguments.