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SC says single-member commission to probe Panama leaks

A five-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) hearing the Panamagate petitions on Thursday decided that a single-member commission will be formed to probe revelations made in the Panama Papers after reviewing all replies.

The Panamagate commission will be headed by an apex court judge and will hold powers equivalent to the apex court.

The SC in its court order said it is competent to hear the petitions as they fall under public importance and fundamental rights.

On Tuesday, the National Accountability Bureau told the five-judge SC bench that it is beyond the scope of the body to probe the Panama leaks.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had said during the hearing, “What we have gathered from your reply is that you have decided not to do anything… We have your message loud and clear that no authority wants to take action in this matter, and now, we will attend to it.”

Earlier this week, the SC ordered the government and opposition parties to submit their Terms of Reference (ToRs) on the formation of a commission to probe the Panama leaks. The order came just a day before the PTI’s planned Nov 2 ‘lockdown’ of Islamabad.

Only the Awami Muslim League submitted its proposed ToRs during today’s hearing. The court directed all parties to submit their ToRs by today.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali said, however, that the court was not bound to accept the ToRs of any party.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Salman Ahmed Butt submitted the premier’s response in court today, along with that of Captain Safdar.

In his reply, the PM denied holding any offshore companies and maintained that he is a regular taxpayer. He said that he had declared all his assets in 2013, so he was not liable for disqualification under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif added that none of his children is dependent on him.

The PM’s children, Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, did not submit their responses.

When the PM’s counsel was asked why his family members did not submit their responses, the lawyer said they were out of the country. The court expressed its displeasure and asked for submission of responses by Monday so the case can proceed.

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