The Supreme Court is expected to shortly announce its much-awaited judgement on a petition filed by PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi seeking disqualification of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan and secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen.
The verdict will be announced in Courtroom No 1 by a three-judge bench consisting of Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab. Petitioner Abbasi is present in the court.
Courtroom No 1 last came into limelight when a five-judge SC bench comprising Justices Asif Saeed Khosa, Gulzar Ahmed, Ejaz Afzal Khan, Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Ijaz-ul-Ahsan disqualified Nawaz Sharif as prime minister in the Panama Papers case on July 28.
The petition, filed by Abbasi in November 2016, accused the two PTI leaders of not declaring their assets to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and sought their disqualification based on alleged violations of the lncome Tax Ordinance 1979 and Peoples Act 1974.
On May 3, amidst a heightened political backdrop, a three-member bench of the apex court had begun hearing the petition.
During the length of the case, the lawyers from both sides presented their arguments for over 100 hours and referred to 73 different cases as precedent, DawnNews reported. After more than 50 court hearings, the verdict was reserved on November 14.
Abbasi’s petition had sought the PTI leaders’ disqualification under charges of false declaration before the ECP, non-disclosure of assets in offshore companies, and for being a foreign-funded party.
The petiton had aruged that by failing to disclose the existence of “Niazi Services Limited” — an off-shore company allegedly owned by the PTI chairman — to the ECP, Khan stands in violation of the Income Tax Ordinance of 1979.
Additionally, Abbasi had claimed that the ‘off-shore company’ has consistently been submitting its financial documents to the relevant authorities in the Channel Islands, where the company is said to be based.
Abbasi had maintained that Imran Khan failed to formally declare his ‘off-shore company’ to authorities in Pakistan and opines that Khan’s intention to establish the off-shore company, which was dissolved in October 2015, was rooted in tax evasion.
Furthermore, Abbasi had argued that Imran Khan failed to disclose to the ECP his Rs2.97 million purchase of a luxury apartment in the capital city of Islamabad. That, he had argued, is a violation of the Peoples Act of 1974 and can result in the dismissal of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.
Questions posed to Imran’s lawyer
Throughout the proceedings of the case, Khan’s lawyer Advocate Naeem Bukhari was questioned by the apex bench on various matters, specifically the money trail for PTI chief’s flat in London and his Banigala property.
In one of the hearings, Advocate Bukhari was questioned over Khan’s failure to declare the London flat as an asset. He had told the court that the flat was not declared as it was located outside of Pakistan.
Over several hearings, the court had sought clarity from Khan’s lawyer with regards to the PTI chief’s Banigala residence, questioning where the money for it had come from and if Khan had accepted a loan or a gift from his former wife, Jemima Khan, to purchase the property.
During the course of the hearing, the bench had also asked for the account details of Niazi Services Limited (NSL), Khan’s offshore company, that was dissolved in 2015
Tareen’s land and off-shore company
The court had raised questions pertaining to Tareen’s 18,500 acres of land, which his lawyer had argued was leased and not owned. The lawyer had attempted to explain why his client had not declared the land is his election forms and had made the distinction between land owned by his client and that which was leased as the basis for his defence.
Several hearings had also focused on Tareen’s offshore company, Shiny View Limited, established under British Virgin Islands laws in 2011. The company owned a residential property in Berkshire, UK, for the use of his four children, who were beneficial owners of the property, Tareen’s lawyer had told the court.