After seven-year hiatus, top court to take up JI plea on Panama Papers

June 02, 2023

JI Ameer Sirajul Haq's plea, which was filed in 2016, will be heard by a two-member bench next week

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Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Ameer Sirajul Haq talking to the media in this undated picture. — PPI/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will take up Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Chief Sirajul Haq's pleaseeking an investigation against all the Pakistanis named in the infamous Panama Papers next week.

A bench comprising Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan will hear the case — filed in August 2016 — on June 9.

The JI emir had asked the court to investigate all the 436 Pakistanis whose names are mentioned in the Panama Papers.

In April 2016, some 200, and later on 400 more people, were figured in the Panama Papers. They included businessmen and politicians from Pakistan, including the members of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s family accused of setting up offshore companies in the tax havens.

Notices have been issued to Attorney General Mansoor Usman Awan and others made a party in the petition.

In its petition, the JI has prayed to the top court to direct the federation to initiate an inquiry into the Panama Leaks under Article 184(3) of the Constitution without mentioning the name of any politician or businessman, alleged to be involved in establishing offshore companies.

According to the plea submitted byHaq, "A large number of persons, many of them holders of public offices, were also allegedly involved in the commission of said offences and had not mentioned in the details of their assets about their investments through offshore companies, so all such holders of public offices were liable to be disqualified from their offices and also be punished accordingly."

Instead of making any politician or businessman respondent, the petitioner chose to make the Federation of Pakistan, Ministry of Law, Ministry of Finance, Cabinet Division, and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) through its chairman as respondents.

The petitioner recalled that despite the fact that the apex court on May 16, 2016, demanded a list of owners of the said offshore companies and the details of individuals, families, groups, companies etc, which were required by the “Commission of Inquiry”, but the respondent (the government) deliberately did not provide the list.

“It is regretted that the respondents are deliberately delaying and avoiding any proceedings of inquiry into the alleged corruption leaks... resulting in failure of recovery of public money from abroad and hence the country is facing serious financial hardships,” the plea further stated.

"It seems that the respondent NAB is not initiating any action or inquiry/investigation under the provisions of NAO, 1999, despite the fact that eradication of corruption is the sole purpose of the NAB."

Since April 2016, NAB has not taken cognisance of the matter, whereas u/s 18 of the NAO, 1999, respondent No 5 has the authority to take suo moto action against all matters of corruption and corrupt practices committed, according to the petition.

"There had allegedly been matters of corruption and corrupt practices of the magnitude of trillions of Pak rupees of public money, but NAB has not initiated action/inquiry even in a single case as narrated in the media."

The petition says that corruption and corrupt practices have allegedly been committed by owners of the said “off-shore companies”, who are holders of public offices in Pakistan and are in opposition parties.

It further contended that the owners of the offshore companies had illegally, without bringing into the knowledge of the state, transferred and invested public money from Pakistan abroad, to establish their “Offshore Companies” on the basis of illegal and corrupt money.

Public money has been allegedly usurped through corruption, corrupt practices and kickbacks, the petition asserts and adds that therefore, the matter in hand requires emergent indulgence of this august court, Siarj-ul Haq had submitted.

It also contends that immediate arrest of the culprits and stern action to recover and bring the money back to the country would be in the general interest of the public prosperity and progress of the people of Pakistan.

The petitioner in the plea has prayed to the apex court that in view of these submissions, the respondents be directed to initiate inquiry/investigation followed by trial proceedings under the laws of Pakistan and resultantly a direction be issued to them to arrest the culprits and to recover and bring the public money back to Pakistan, which was illegally transferred from Pakistan to some other country.

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