Kashif Abbasi Grills Hanif Abbasi

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The Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday directed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to prove the last five transactions by his ex-wife Jemima Khan and show Niazi Services (Pvt) Limited (NSL) in his documents.

The apex court put a volley of questions to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and sought its reply over its jurisdiction to probe the foreign funding as well as prohibited sources.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nasir and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab, resumed hearing into the petitions, filed by PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi seeking disqualification of the PTI chief Imran Khan and Secretary General Jehangir Tareen over alleged tax evasion.

The petitioner had accused the two PTI leaders of not declaring their assets to the ECP hence had prayed the apex court to unseat them based on their alleged violations of the Income Tax Ordinance, 1979 and the People’s Act, 1974.

During the course of hearing, Chief Justice Miaz Saqib Nisar, while referring to the arguments submitted by Anwar Mansoor Khan, counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, asked Ibrahim Satti, the ECP counsel, to answer as to whether the ECP had the jurisdiction to probe the prohibited source and foreign funding in circumstances where a chartered accountant submitted its audit report before the ECP with no objection.

The chief justice further asked the ECP counsel to tell the court as to who had the locus standi to file a petition under Article 6 (3) of the Political Parties Order 2002 besides telling as to whether the ECP had suo moto powers to probe the issue once the financial year was closed on the basis that it was now past and close transaction.

The court recalled to the ECP counsel that PTI counsel Anwar Mansoor Khan had submitted during his arguments that once the chartered accountant submitted his audit report and when the ECP accepted this and finally published it and awarded symbols to political parties, it was considered as past and close transaction.

The court further told the ECP counsel that the counsel for the PTI had also submitted during his arguments that the ECP was not a tribunal but an executive forum and did not have the mandate to review its decision once it published the audit reports with no objection.

The court also asked the ECP counsel to tell as to whether the apex court could examine a case while exercising its jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution regarding foreign funding despite the fact it was pending with the ECP.

Ibrahim Satti told the court that he would file a reply in this regard but submitted that in 2014, a petition was filed with the ECP regarding foreign funding of the PTI by one of its founding members.

He said that later, the PTI challenged it in the Islamabad High Court, raising objection to the ECP jurisdiction which was dismissed holding that the ECP had the jurisdiction to hear the matter relating to foreign funding.

Faisal Chaudhry, a member of the PTI legal team, however, informed the court that the PTI had filed a petition requesting to sine die the proceeding as the matter was pending before the Supreme Court.

Earlier, Naeem Bukhari, counsel for Imran Khan, while continuing his arguments, submitted that Imran Khan was neither a shareholder nor the director of NSL, rather his sisters, Aleema and Uzma, were shareholders of the company and, therefore, Imran Khan was not required under the law to disclose that assets.

The learned counsel further contended that the country where the company was established, Imran Khan was mentioned as the owner. He further submitted that as the company was worth only nine pounds, hence it was not felt necessary to disclose it in the assets.

Bukhari further submitted that not disclosing the Niazi Services Limited could be termed a mistake but it could not be considered as mala fide intention.

The learned counsel for the PTI chief further contended that they could not produce the documents regarding the assets managed by the NSL and invited Hanif Abbasi, the petitioner in this case, to do so.

He further said that Imran Khan declared his London flat following an amnesty scheme. The chief justice asked the learned counsel as to whether he was saying that his client took full benefit of the amnesty scheme.

Naeem replied that it was advised not to disclose the name of the company which was abided by and as the company was worth of nine pounds, hence it was not given importance. Similarly, he said that by the time Imran Khan took advantage of the tax amnesty scheme, he was an ordinary citizen.

Justice Umer Ata Bandial, however, said that this law was only implemented when this matter was taken by the candidate to the ECP. Referring to the Banigala property, he said that Jemima was collecting the documents and the moment it was received, it would be placed before the court.

The chief justice said that in the first instance, the agreement would be looked into asking the counsel to read as he must remember. Naeem Bukhari said that on March 13, 2002, 300 kanals of land was purchased at Rs43,500,000 and the first payment was made in cash of Rs3,000,000 while the next payment given to the agent was Rs300,000 while the third payment of Rs3,500,000 was made later on.

Thereafter, he said that on April 11, 2002, Jemima sent Rs14,500,000 to Rashid Khan which was given to the owner of the land. He said that on August 1, 2002, Rs10 million while on December 13 Rs2,500,000 were paid. He continued that on October 2, 2002, Rs3,500,000 and on January 23, 2003 Rs5,700,000 were paid.

The last payment he made was Rs800,000 in cash, Naeem Bukhari submitted. However, he said that its date and receipt was not found. The chief justice said that this payment could be ascertained through the tax statement of Imran Khan. Naeem Bukhari, however, said that no objection was raised by the seller of the land yet.

Meanwhile, Naeem Bukhari gave details about the money sent by Imran Khan’s ex-wife Jemima Khan. He said that on April 11, 2002, $258,333 were sent which were converted into Rs15,422,480. The rate of dollar was at Rs59.70, he said adding that on August 1, Jemima sent Rashid Khan $275,678 which were in three phases converted into Pakistani rupees. Thereafter, he informed the court that 20,000 sterling pounds were sent by Jemima into Rashid Khan’s account adding that $16,000 were sent for the second time, and five thousand dollars each were sent the third and fourth time.

He further said that later Jemima sent $100,000, hence total of Rs4,848,463 were received from Jemima. The chief justice, however, said that on April 2, 2003, $110,000 also came to Rashid Khan’s account. Naeem Bukhari, however, said that Rashid Khan said that amount was not sent by Jemima Khan.

The chief justice asked the counsel as to on which amount, the land of Banigala was purchased. Naeem Bukhari said that the first documents were incomplete, hence confusion was made but now the documents were clear.

The chief justice further asked as to whether the learned counsel could establish from the record that all these amounts were sent by Jemima. Naeem Bukhari, however, said that it was his responsibility to establish it from the documents.

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