ISLAMABAD (Sarzameen News) – The Supreme Court of Pakistan has resumed hearing a slew of petitions seeking a probe into Panama papers here on Wednesday.
Counsel for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Makhdoom Ali Khan has started his arguments before the apex court to justify the ownership of offshore companies and London flats.
According to media reports, prime minister Nawaz Sharif sought immunity from the apex court to his conflicting statements on the basis of article 248 of constitution.
Makhdoom Ali Khan kicked off his arguments by stating that the allegation of tax evasion on premier was factually wrong adding that Nawaz Sharif sent gifts to Maryam through banking channels, a complete record of which was also available and premier also mentioned it in his tax returns.
Makhdoom reiterated that Maryam Nawaz was not dependent on premier Nawaz Sharif and Hussain Nawaz also had National Tax Number (NTN).
He went on and maintained that the wealth as well as income tax statement of premier Nawaz Sharif was already available to the court however it was everyone’s right not to disclose bank details.
‘A total of $ 310000 were transferred from premier to Maryam Nawaz account’ said Makhdoom Ali Khan adding that Nawaz Sharif accepted gifts but through banks. He argued that Nawaz Sharif did not conceal anything from the court.
‘It was not sure whether Sharif family mentioned gifts worth $ 1.9 million in their tax returns’ remarked justice Aijaz.
Meanwhile, talking to newsmen outside Supreme Court PTI’s representative Fawad Chaudhry said that the core issue was money trail regarding Panama case.
On the other hand, minister for railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq expressed that PTI chairman Imran Khan was putting Pakistan’s economy at stake for personal vengeance adding that he was not serious regarding the landmark case.
He went on and said that Imran Khan did not come out of his palacial house when many of the PTI supporters were on roads.
Earlier, the apex court issued notices to all the concerned parties including the prime minister on disqualification petition filed by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).
During the last hearing, PM’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif also submitted her reply in the apex court which stated that she was not dependent on her father ever since she got married in 1992.
In her reply, she stated that expenditures for Shamim farm house were paid jointly and her share in tax returns of Shamim Akhter in 2013 was Rs. 5 million while it was Rs. 6 million for subsequent years, 2014 and 2015.
She detailed that out of 384 kanals of Shamim Agri farms, 364 kanals were being supervised by her grandmother Shamim Akhter.
‘I paid Rs. 12128778 as tax in 2016’ Maryam clarified in her response.
PM’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan argued before the larger bench that article 19 of the constitution ensured freedom of speech to every individual. He reiterated that the premier’s speech had no conflict.
To this, justice Asif Khosa replied that he was not demanding for right in terms of freedom of speech, instead he was asking for immunity for the premier.
The apex court remarked that speech made on the floor of the house was used as an evidence against legislators in New Zealand.
Makhdoom went on and maintained that the premier was seeking his right on the basis of article 66 available to every legislator. He referred to the Zahoor Ali murder case and claimed that former prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto also sought immunity in that particular case.
He argued that the law of wealth tax was scrapped in 2003 and PTI was demanding PM’s disqualification on the basis of it after 14 years adding that no case regarding non-payment of wealth tax was underway against Nawaz Sharif.
‘No evidence suggesting any link of Nawaz Sharif with Dubai factory was available’ said PM’s counsel.
Justice Asif Khosa remarked that the apex court was trying to understand an issue adding that article 66 of the constituion does not correspond to individual.
‘Who is telling the truth, kids or their father’ justice Khosa asked Makhdoom Ali Khan and said that parliament devises law whereas the apex court interprets it.
Justice Azmat Saeed while throwing his weight behind justice Khosa observed that the apex court was reviewing the speech of Nawaz’s address to the nation as well apart from his speech on the floor of the house.
Makhdoom Ali Khan in a categoric statement claimed that the premier could not be disqualified even on the basisi of conflicting statements or statements of his scions.
Justice Azmat Saeed remarked that the plaintiffs argued that there was a conflict between statement of premier and his scions.