Panama Papers case: Disqualification decision of dissenting judges

ISLAMABAD - Two of the five judges, who gave the verdict in Panama Papers case, favoured sending Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif packing – though their decision failed to secure majority and become operative part of the judgment.

Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed declared that the prime minister is not honest to the nation, the National Assembly and the apex court, in explaining possession and acquisition of London properties.

They rejected the explanations of Nawaz Sharif’s children regarding London flats for being conflicting and unbelievable.

Justice Khosa’s note

Head of the bench, Justice Khosa directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to issue a notification of disqualification of Nawaz Sharif from being a member of the Parliament with immediate effect.

He said that the president is required to take necessary constitutional steps to ensure continuation of the democratic process through parliamentary system of government in the country.

Also, Justice Khosa directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to proceed against PM Nawaz Sharif and any other person connected with him in respect of the offence of corruption and corrupt practices under section 9(a)(v) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

He ordered NAB to probe into the other assets acquired and businesses set up by prime minister’s children in Pakistan and abroad to find out whether the children have acted as Benamidars of Nawaz Sharif, and if so, whether the PM can satisfactorily account for those assets and businesses if he is discovered to be their actual owner.

The senior judge found the neutrality and impartiality of the incumbent NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry compromised in the matters of the PM, therefore, he directed him not to exercise any power, authority or function in investigation against PM and his children.

He asked Chief Justice of Pakistan to constitute an Implementation Bench of apex court, which shall exercise all the powers, authority and functions of the NAB chairman in the matter of investigation against Sharif family till Qamar Zaman completes his current non-extendable term of office.

The Implementation Bench shall also monitor the progress made by the NAB in the matters and it shall also supervise the investigation being conducted by it in the matters as and when found necessary and called for besides issuing any order deemed expedient in the interest of justice.

The judge wrote that the NAB is directed to proceed against incumbent Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar regarding Reference No 5 of year 2000 wherein he was not an accused person when the said Reference was quashed by the Lahore High Court.

He observed that the reinvestigation against the accused persons (Sharif family) was barred because after quashing of that Reference against the accused persons. He noted that after setting aside of the confessional statement of Ishaq Dar his status in that Reference stood revived as an accused person against whom no Reference had been quashed and reinvestigation qua him was never ordered to be barred.

Justice Justice Gulzar’s note

Justice Gulzar Ahmed said that being in possession and occupation of four London flats and by paying their dues and maintaining them like an owner does, it heavily rested upon Nawaz Sharif to explain in a very clear and unambiguous terms with supporting material about his and his family’s connection with the flats, more so when he himself from his own mouth stated that he has nothing to hide and that there are all records available with him.

He said it was an obligation and duty towards the people of Pakistan, who had a fundamental right to know about the standing of their chosen representative and prime minister – and it is also a question of great public importance.

Justice Gulzar said when the PM was called upon by the apex court to explain his position, Nawaz chose to remain silent. “This evasive attitude... did not appear to be justified or bonafide rather its purpose appears to throw the court in altogether a dark alley..., more so when the court is considering the very question of his being honest” in holding office of MNA and the PM.

The judge wrote that under Article 184(3) of the Constitution neither [the bench] acts as a Civil Court nor does it act as a Criminal Court; rather, it acts such matters of public importance as a constitutional court, with reference to enforcement of Fundamental Rights as conferred in Chapter 1, Part II of the Constitution.

It was therefore a constitutional duty of the prime minister to satisfy the court and the nation about the four London flats, which he miserably failed to do and thus has not been honest and Ameen in terms of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.

In this scenario, the court cannot be expected to sit as a toothless body and become a mere spectator but it has to rise above screen of technicalities and give a positive verdict for meeting the ends of justice and safeguard the Fundamental Rights of the people.

It is thus declared that Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has not been Honest and Ameen and so he has rendered himself disqualified as Member of National Assembly and ceases to be the prime minister.

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Fuente: THE NATION