VERDICT OUT: Supreme Court orders PM to face JIT in Panamagate case

Source:  ARY News Published in Current Affairs on Thursday, April 20, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has announced formation of the joint investigation team in the anxiously-awaited verdict of the Panama Papers case that will probe offshore properties of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa announced the verdict. The terms of references of the probe body will be devised by the SC. The JIT will decide the matter in a stipulated period of 60 days.

Prime Minister and his sons – Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz – will appear before the investigation commission.

The final 540-page verdict is split 3-2 among the bench with two dissenting notes in the judgement by Justice Khosa and Justice Gulzar. The two judges ruled against PM Nawaz Sharif, whereas the other three were in favour of constituting the JIT.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Ejaz Afzal in their remarks said the prime minister must be de-notified during the course of investigation, However three other judges had a different opinion.

The SC bench also ordered to trace money trail with regard to ownership of London apartments.

In another twist, the SC bench also rejected the Qatari prince letter that was produced during hearing of the case.

The controversy erupted with the publication of the Panama Papers last year, 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca which documented the offshore dealings of many of the world’s rich and powerful.

Among the global elite implicated were three of Sharif’s four children — his daughter and presumptive political heir Maryam Nawaz, and his sons Hasan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz.

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MUST READ: PANAMA PAPERS – HOW IT ALL UNFOLDED

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The ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz insists the wealth was acquired legally through family businesses in Pakistan and the Gulf.

The Supreme Court that took up the case for hearing in October last year, heard arguments from both the sides – opposition and government – and reserved its verdict in February 2017. The court hearings witnessed dramatic statements and happenings that kept the issue in the news since it came to light.

The court has taken such action before, however, holding Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in contempt in 2012 for refusing to re-open corruption investigations into then President Asif Ali Zardari, resulting in his disqualification.