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September 13, 2017

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Disqualification case: SC asks tough questions from Imran

Disqualification case: SC asks tough questions from Imran

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked tough questions from the PTI chief Imran Khan about the authenticity of the documents pertaining to the transactions that took place between him and his ex-wife Jemima, saying no document matched other documents and there was a gap in the purchase of the property.

The court asked the PTI chief where the documents of the money sent by Jemima were. It said the documents so far submitted before the court were photocopies and unverified.A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab, resumed hearing in petitions filed by the PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi, seeking disqualification of Imran Khan and PTI Secretary General Jehangir Tareen for non-disclosure of their assets, ownership of offshore companies and for PTI being a foreign-aided party.

The court directed Naeem Bukhari, counsel for Imran Khan, to submit complete and verified record of transactions that took place between him and Jemima for the purchase of Banigala estate.

During the hearing, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed that some the entries made in the statement were not proven yet, adding that the respondent PTI chief had not attached details of the money trail for the purchase of Banigala property. Similarly, the court observed that the money that the respondent had claimed to have borrowed from his ex-wife was not yet verified.

“You borrowed money from your wife, then the burden of proof is on you and you have to prove this,” the chief justice told Naeem Bukhari, Imran Khan’s counsel. The court said the petitioner was raising objection over the total amount of transactions of 126,000 dollars that took place between the respondent and his spouse.

Naeem Bukhari informed the court that he had submitted his reply following the court orders. The chief justice observed that the missing financial details of Imran’s Banigala property were yet to be submitted. The chief justice questioned as to where were the transactions’ receipts, which prove that the PTI chief borrowed money from Jemima and returned it to her later. Similarly, the court observed that the respondent’s reply does not include details of how the property was purchased in Jemima’s name.

The chief justice asked Naeem Bukhari to satisfy the court regarding 160,000 pounds. The court questioned why Jemima sent money through one Rashid Khan instead of transferring it directly to Imran Khan. Naeem Bukhari replied that Rashid Khan, who was a mutual friend of Imran Khan and Jemima, was an employee of the Citi Bank and he converted the currency beforeHe said $285,000 were transferred to Rashid’s account.

To another court query about the money trail of $126,000 which is allegedly missing, Naeem Bukhari said the record of $16,000 and $5,000 transactions, which took place between Jemima and Rashid Khan were available and sought a day time to submit them. He admitted that the record of $100,000 could not be found despite efforts.

“What should be the legal inference if you failed to prove the authenticity of the said amount,” the chief justice asked Naeem Bukhari, adding that it has not yet been proved that the amount has gone from Niazi Services Limited (NSL) to Jemima’s account.

To a court query, Naeem Bukhari replied that the 2002 nomination papers of Imran state that the Banigala estate is under Jemima’s name. Justice Umar Ata Bandial observed that a discrepancy exists between documents submitted by the PTI chairman earlier and now.

He pointed out that the copies of documents submitted by the PTI chairman were unverified, thus can’t be acceptable. Naeem Bukhari assured the bench he will try his best to satisfy the court.

“You have stated in your affidavit that you have gifted the Banigala property to your ex-wife and if it was not a gift then it was a Benami property,” the CJP observed. Naeem Bukhari replied that it was never the case of his respondent that he has gifted the property to his wife. Elaborating this, Bukhari said the rationale was that his ex-wife should come to Pakistan and live here. He further said that borrowing money from wife does not mean a loan but a family arrangement.

Muhammad Akram Sheikh, counsel for Hanif Abbasi, told the court that the respondent twice had said that he had borrowed money from his ex-wife and later he said that he got a bridge loan. “Bridge loan means a short-term loan but after all it is a loan,” Akram Sheikh contended.

On one point when Akram Sheikh said that Imran Khan had contested election from more than five constituencies but did not succeed, Justice Faisal Arab asked him whether a looser in the election can be disqualified for concealing assets, and whether this disqualification will be for ever?

Akram Sheikh contended that this decision is yet to be taken by a five-member bench seized with the review petitions of Sharif family against the apex court’s July 28 verdict. He said the court had given a verdict on a matter between father and son that’s why it could not be said that it is matter of wife and her ex-husband.

Justice Umar Ata Bandyal said the court decision was not on the matter relating to a father and his son but it was a matter of state and public office holder. 

The court adjourned the hearing till September 26 after Naeem Bukhari sought time for collecting verified documents relating to transactions that took place between Imran Khan and Jemima.

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