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November 15, 2017

Contradiction in stance of Imran, Tareen: SC

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November 15, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved judgment on the petitions filed by PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi, seeking disqualification of PTI Chairman Imran Khan and General Secretary Jehangir Tareen for non-disclosure of their assets and ownership of offshore companies.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umer Ata Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab reserved the judgment after the counsel for both parties concluded their arguments in rebuttal.

Chief Justice Nisar said there were contradictions in the stance of Imran and Tareen and observed it should not be expected that the decision in the instant case would be issued tomorrow. “It is a matter which will be decided after examining all the facts provided by the parties concerned.”

During the hearing, he also observed, “By all intent and purpose, Jahangir Tareen was the beneficial owner of Shiny View.” Naeem Bukhari, counsel for Imran, submitted that his client could not be disqualified for not disclosing assets of his spouse in the nomination papers, adding that only the nomination papers could be rejected. Imran committed the fault, which wasn’t misdeclaration, he said.

At this point, the chief justice asked whether not declaring salary in the nomination papers was a mistake or misdeclaration. The learned counsel said the 2002 nomination papers of his client were never challenged anywhere. However, Justice Bandial remarked that Imran did not disclose his Euro account.

Muhammad Akram Sheikh, counsel for the petitioner, said the apex court in its judgment delivered in the Panama Papers case had held that disqualification could be made also on misdeclaration.

The chief justice inquired as to whether the fault committed in 2002 could be proceeded against now, to which Sheikh replied that the apex court had disqualified a National Assembly member in a case related to his degree in nomination papers of 2008 and 2013. Sheikh submitted that the respondent’s stance that he was not the owner of shell company was not true and the company of Imran who had greatly benefited from it.

The learned counsel contended that Imran had repeatedly changed his stance during the 18 hearings of the instant proceedings. The court should look into, what he called, the shifty conduct of Imran, he added.

The chief justice remarked, “One of the biggest advantages of telling the truth is that you don’t have to remember what you have said earlier.” He observed, “So far whatever has been placed before them in the instant matter, the court would search out as to who is telling the truth,” and added that many things were incorporated by the respondent (Imran Khan) in his replies without the permission of the court and “these all are in our notice”.

“We will look into the matter while placing the whole picture and to see whether this is dishonesty or not as it is the matter of honesty of a personality”, the chief justice remarked, adding that two-thirds life of a judge passed in searching the truth.

During the hearing, the chief justice asked Sikandar Bashir Mohmand, counsel for Tareen, as to “who is the owner of London property (Hyde House)”. The Shiny View, the counsel replied, had a trust and all the money sent by his client went to the account of Shiny View. He said the property was purchased on May 10, 2011 by the Shiny View Limited Company on the instructions of settler (Tareen) and it was incorporated into laws of British Virgin Island (BVI), adding that Shiny View was the legal entity of the property.

“Who conceived the idea of establishing the company,” the chief justice asked the learned counsel who replied that Tareen conceived the idea of establishing it saying the HSBC Hong Kong, Shanghai, which was a large banking company and the legal entity that had first established the structure incorporating the company.

The chief justice then asked as to whether Tareen was its owner, but the counsel replied in the negative. The chief justice questioned as to “how it is a trust property when you did not send the money”. Mohmand however, submitted that “the human beings behind the Shiny View are the trustees who are the legal entities”.

“The legal ownership is in Shiny View and beneficiary owners are trustees and my client (Tareen) is discretionary beneficiary.” The chief justice said, “There are some cheques which are not in the name of Shiny View.” The counsel said, “Exactly it is but it does not lead to disqualification, as the documents of all the money were available and this is legal income of my client”.

Justice Faisal Arab, however, observed that money being legal, if not disclosed, could lead to disqualification. The chief Justice asked the learned counsel to have a look on the reply having the trust deed wherein it was mentioned that Tareen was the lifetime beneficiary.

“By all intent and purpose, Jahangir Tareen was the beneficial owner of Shiny View”, the chief justice remarked. The counsel, however, replied that Tareen was the discretionary beneficiary. Later, the court asked the counsels to submit their written formulations and reserved the judgment.

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