Panama case hearing
ISLAMABAD: Minutes after Justice Asif Saeed Khosa asked the parties to refrain from media campaign on the premises of the top court about the Panama case after they have expressed confidence in the new bench, the spokesman of both sides held their separate more than one presser to claim their case stands proved against the other.
“Let the court remain a ‘mandar’ of justice and don’t make it a political arena; you have entire Pakistan at your disposal for your activities,” the senior judge, who heads the five-justice panel that resumed hearing against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his children on account of offshore companies, remarked.
“We don’t want to curb anybody’s constitutional and legal right. Media may discuss our questions posed to lawyers, but these queries should not be considered the opinion of the judges. Questions are put to know the inside of facts and reach the central point of the case. Throughout our life, we have never come under pressure (of anybody).”
Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, a member of the bench, observed that the parties should address the court and not the media.
It was clear from the standard practice of the mouthpieces of the litigants that they were not deterred by the observations of the judges as they continued their exercise unhindered. This was not the first time that the justices passed such comments. However, unfortunately, never did the accuser and the accused pay heed to them. The judges have always consciously resisted making an express order to stop discussion about the Panama case or on the premises of the top judicial forum in the way the two sides debate it, trying to make everyone believe that they have presented credible evidence and have carried the day. It is difficult to have a precise count of their successes they have so far claimed after and before every hearing of this politically high-profile case.
Both parties would not even wait for the conclusion of the day’s proceedings and started showering their pearls of wisdom and slurs and allegations on their rivals during the 30-minute tea break the judges take from 11am to 11:30am. This showed the hurry, impatience and haste they follow in projecting their cause out of the courtroom instead of remaining focused on the judicial proceedings.
As per its unbreakable tradition, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) again took the lead in holding the media talk twice, once during the tea break and then after the bench wrapped up the day’s hearing.
In fact, there was a virtual race between two PTI spokesmen -- Fawad Chaudhry and Naeemul Haq -- to beat the other in addressing the media by occupying the rostrum. Naeemul Haq was displeased and felt left out, as Fawad Chaudhry outsmarted him. He complained to his colleague for not waiting for him while starting the press talk. Before the unpleasantness further simmered, Babar Awan intervened asking the two to calm down in front of a myriad of TV cameras. However, this competition demonstrated the desperation in the PTI to highlight its stand on a sub judice matter and ambition to outperform even other party leaders.
It was inconceivable that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) will let the PTI spokespersons’ assertions, detrimental to its cause, go un-responded. A few minutes after the first presser of their rivals, Federal Minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and Tallal Chaudhry appeared before reporters and reacted in the same vein.
The second round was yet to take place. As the hearing ended, the PTI again articulated its stand to journalists, forcing the PML-N to give a rejoinder. While one side presented its new documents as most authentic, the other dubbed them as fabricated and fake. Their public projections may have different impacts on the people at large, but they will hardly influence the opinion of the five judges.
In this connection, Justice Ijaz Afzal’s comment was pertinent. He remarked addressing PTI lawyer Naeem Bokhari that when he has confidence in the bench, justice is not what his client wants but justice is what is decided on the basis of evidence produced before the court.
There was hardly any new point in the arguments advanced by the PTI counsel on Wednesday. He has to repeat his assertions upon which he had relied before the previous bench because the new panel has started the proceedings afresh. It will be seen how the new team of lawyers of the Sharif family will counter his claims and allegations. But more important for it would be to satisfy the judges and answer their pertinent questions.
By deciding to hold proceedings on a daily basis, the panel of judges gave a clear message that they want to come out with their ruling without any delay. They also told the lawyers of all sides that no adjournment would be allowed. Even the earlier bench also wanted to dispose of the petitions quickly but could not for different reasons.
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