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Supreme Courts forms JIT to probe Panama case

SLAMABAD (Dunya News) - The Supreme Court of Pakistan will announce its verdict in the Panama Papers case today (Thursday), Dunya News reported. The verdict will be announced at 2:00pm. The Panama Papers case was heard by a five-member Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa. The verdict was reserved by the Apex court on February 23, 2017. The Supreme Court could take a range of steps. It could clear the prime minister, or order a further judicial commission of inquiry or even declare him ineligible to hold office, as it did in 2012 with then-Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani over a contempt of court case. Panama Papers had published a leak of documents belonging to Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm on April 4, 2016. The leak named over 400 incumbent as well as former leaders of the world who owned offshore companies which were interpreted by the commentators as means to stash wealth abroad. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family; two sons and a daughter were named in the documents which were studied by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Opposition parties in Pakistan saw the published documents as proof of alleged money laundering done by the premier. Questions over the source of money used to purchase flats in London s posh Mayfair locality by Sharif family were raised by opposition leaders. Leader of one of the opposition parties, Imran Khan used the leak to accuse the government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of misleading the nation and looting hard-earned money of the taxpayers. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, in leadership of Imran Khan managed to draw a consensus of opposition parties to demand the premier to resign and offer himself for accountability. PM Nawaz addressed the nation twice, once on April 5 and April 22 to take the nation in confidence and denied corruption accusations. He offered to form a judicial commission to probe the leaks against his family which was denied by opposition parties. Later, the Prime Minister offered to establish a parliamentary committee to form joint Terms of References to have the issue probed by the apex court. On the floor of the House in May, PM Nawaz categorically denied the allegations and claimed that no money was stashed in foreign bank accounts by his family. Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly, Khurshid Shah called off the protest against the government and absence of PM Nawaz in the House delaying due explanation and took him up on his offer. Six representatives of the two sides each convened several meetings, some held at residence of Leader of the Opposition in Senate, Aitzaz Ahsan, but failed to chalk out joint Terms of References to have the premier probed by a bench of the top court. The representatives of the government and the opposition, referred to by the media and the masses as TOR committee, never agreed on joint Terms of References. On political front, Imran Khan and other parties were successful by then to develop an agenda for the people through across-the-country rallies and media barrage of statements that drew counter-narrative explanations. Around the time when Imran Khan warned the government of alleged lockdown of the federal capital last year, the apex court took up the case on October 20 and condensed the petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamaat-e-Islami and Awami Muslim League against the premier. On November 7, family of the premier filed replies in the top court and on November 14, PTI submitted evidence against the Sharif family. Hearing of the case was adjourned on December 9 until first week of January 2017 over retirement of ex-Chief Justice of Pakistan, Anwar Zaheer Jamali. Revised bench comprising of Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Sh. Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan resumed the hearing on January 4. On January 10, in its remarks, the court had branded disqualification of the premier over mere assumptions a dangerous precedent. Justice Ijaz had stated in another hearing on January 12 that the records which the PM had asserted to produce before the court were not filed and that the bench could not decide what was true and what was false without looking at the documents. State institutions were remarked against by the top court on February 21 when the judges declared the authorities concerned to have failed in probing lawmakers who owned shell companies. After a trial that ran for around four months, Supreme Court reserved the verdict on February 23. A supplementary cause list of the top court issued on April 18 reported that the verdict would be let out on April 20, some two months after it was reserved.

ISLAMABAD (DNA_- Supreme Court has formed Joint Investigation Team to investigate Panama case. The decision was announced 3/2. Two judges Justice Khosa and Justice Gulzar gave dissenting note saying prime minister should be disqualified.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has announced formation of the joint investigation team in the anxiously-awaited verdict of the Panama Papers case, concerning offshore properties of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family that came to light last year.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa announced the verdict. The terms of references of the probe body will be devised by the SC. The JIT will decide the matter in a stipulated period of 60 days.

Prime Minister and his sons – Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz – will appear before the investigation commission,

The controversy erupted with the publication of the Panama Papers last year, 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca which documented the offshore dealings of many of the world’s rich and powerful.

Among the global elite implicated were three of Sharif’s four children — his daughter and presumptive political heir Maryam Nawaz, and his sons Hasan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz.

The ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz insists the wealth was acquired legally through family businesses in Pakistan and the Gulf.

The Supreme Court that took up the case for hearing in October last year, heard arguments from both the sides – opposition and government – and reserved its verdict in February 2017. The court hearings witnessed dramatic statements and happenings that kept the issue in the news since it came to light.

The court has taken such action before, however, holding Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in contempt in 2012 for refusing to re-open corruption investigations into then President Asif Ali Zardari, resulting in his disqualification.

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