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October 12, 2017

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Discrepancies found in Tareen’s tax returns: SC

Discrepancies found in Tareen’s tax returns: SC

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday observed that the case against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary General Jehangir Tareen pertained to concealment of assets as there were discrepancies in the tax returns and the court would have to analyse them.

The apex court said that Jehangir Tareen was required to declare in the nomination forms, both the incomes he earned from his personal land and the land he got on lease.Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar ruled that the inherent jurisdiction of the Supreme Court could not be constrained and it was empowered to examine any matter, wherever it was being heard.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, resumed hearing into the petitions filed by PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi, seeking disqualification of PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Secretary General Jehangir Tareen for non-declaration of their assets, ownership of offshore companies, and PTI being a foreign-aided party.

Sikandar Bashir Mohmand, counsel for Jehnagir Tareen, continued his arguments before the court.During the course of proceedings, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar told the learned counsel that so far the court was not provided the record pertaining to the land and the income his client had earned from the land he acquired on lease.

The chief justice asked the learned counsel as to why his client did not declare in his nomination papers the income he earned from his leased land.“Your client was required to declare both the incomes he earned from the land he owned and the land he got on lease but he did not,” the chief justice asked the counsel for PTI general secretary.

The counsel, however, instead of answering the court’s queries satisfactorily, contended it seemed as if the court was conducting tax audit of his client, adding that the petitioner should take the matter to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), which was the concerned forum.

He also raised objection to the form of nomination papers, saying that the questions put in the nomination papers for reply were not clear and carried ambiguities, besides the form did not have any column to declare the leased land.

At this, the chief justice said that although the form of nomination papers was quite clear, even then the court would examine it to see whether the objections raised to its clarity were true or otherwise.

Advancing his arguments, Sikandar Mohmand submitted that although his client did not mention 18,566 acres of leased land in his nomination papers, he had declared this land in his tax returns, which were submitted along with the nomination papers.

The court, however, observed that it had no concern with his tax returns, instead it had to examine whether the income was declared in the nomination papers.The counsel for PTI general secretary submitted that there were confusions in the Agriculture Tax Law of the Punjab province to which the chief justice said that it would be examined.

Sikandar Mohmand claimed that his client concealed nothing and declared all his assets, including his income from agriculture land, in his nomination papers submitted before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

As per the requirement of the ECP, his client had declared the income in his nomination papers, which he earned from his own agriculture land, Sikandar submitted. He contended that the court should not interfere in the tax matters of his client, which were pending adjudication before the concerned forums.

When the learned counsel submitted that the court’s observations would affect the cases being heard against his client in the Lahore High Court, the chief justice told the counsel that the court had the jurisdiction to interpret any law and intervene in any matter whatsoever and wherever it was being heard.

On this occasion, the chief justice, while referring to the apex court verdict in the Panama Papers case, noted that the apex court had ruled in the said judgment that it could interfere and decide the matters pending with different forums whatsoever.

The chief justice told the learned counsel that the court was hearing a plea seeking disqualification of his client and the issue involved pertained to submitting misdeclarations before the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial, another member of the bench, observed that the apex court was empowered to interpret any law.Later, the court adjourned the hearing until today (Thursday) at 11:30am.

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