Wed June 20, 2018
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!


February 17, 2017



Is burden of proof on Sharif family in Panama case?

ISLAMABAD: As the senior lawyer representing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s sons, Hussain and Hassan, wrapped up his submissions in the Supreme Court, it was established beyond doubt that the burden of proof largely remained on the Sharif family to show that the legitimate funds were used to purchase the London apartments.


The umpteen questions put to Salman Akram Raja by the five judges for nearly two weeks and the documentary evidence sought from his clients amply demonstrated that the Sharif family faced the grueling onus of proof.

Although the lawyer fought a difficult case, he came out well at the end of the day by raising vital, interesting and instructive constitutional and legal points that will obviously be closely looked at by the panel of justices led by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.

The conclusion of submissions by Salman Akram Raja also marked the end of the arguments of all the attorneys speaking for the members of the Sharif family. Earlier, Makhdoom Ali Khan remained on the rostrum, clarifying the position of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He had done well. Shahid Hamid followed him representing Maryam.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed’s remark apparently summed up the proceedings when he observed that not even one-fourth relevant work has so far been done in this case and the time of the bench has been wasted. This showcased the non-availability or non-provision of credible authenticated documents that can be relied upon by the panel in reaching a conclusive judgment.

An important argument advanced by Salman Akram Raja was that even if the bench rejects the defendants’ clarifications including the Qatari prince’s letter, the petitioners’ stand is not established and they will have to prove the ‘offence’ of the other side.

Justice Khosa inquired whether the panel can get the matter looked into by a judicial commission to which the lawyer responded saying that when the guilt has not been proved, there is no justification to constitute such a forum. Moreover, he asserted, a commission can only give its opinion and can’t punish or exonerate anyone. Article 10A of the Constitution prescribes a transparent trial.

Another significant argument made by Salman Akram Raja was that the apex court can’t go into controversial facts while proceeding under Article 184(3). Yet another assertion was that when there was no proof against an accused in a criminal case, the benefit goes to the man being arraigned.

When Salman Akram Raja pointed out that he has heard that the PTI has filed another 800 pages with the court. In a lighter vein, Justice Azmat Saeed asked him to also submit hundreds of more documents. “If there will be so much voluminous papers, how will the case come to an end. Has any conspiracy been hatched so that the case is not completed?”

The lawyer pointed out that in the Asghar Khan case, the Supreme Court had referred the matter to the relevant agency for investigations. However, Justice Khosa noted that the apex court had separated the criminal aspect of the case and given it to the agency, but had handed down its ruling on the corruption side of it. The attorney argued that the court had made the declaration only on the basis of the confessional statements of former chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani, and the then Chief of the Army Staff, Gen (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg.

Yet another submission made by Salman Akram Raja was that no crime stands committed when there is no record of the matter in question. He also emphasized that even if Maryam’s dependency on her father was established, it was not proved that she was the owner of the London flats. Another vital point was that the top court can’t directly take in its hands the job of other State institutions.

Sheikh Azmat Saeed noted that Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq says corruption can’t be ignored. But if he fails to prove his case, his petition will be treated as part of political rivalry.

Justice Khosa also asked what will happen if the panel reaches the determination that the Sharif family’s side of the story was not honest. Salman Akram Raja said that fair trial as prescribed by the Constitution was essential.

The panel head also remarked that when the grandfather (Mian Mohammad Sharif) is not alive; the children (Hussain and Hassan) were not earning; and Begum Kalsoom Nawaz is the housewife, then only one person (the prime minister) is left (to answer the questions).

This was the first time that the bench deferred the hearings for some days. The chairmen of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Revenue Board would have to make unprecedented preparations to face a volley of questions from the judges on Feb 21. Particularly, the NAB chief will have to answer many queries relating to the decision of his agency about not filing an appeal in the Hudaibia case against the high court ruling, which it had taken when he was not heading it.