ISLAMABAD: The Supr­eme Court on Tuesday questioned the quality of the evidence presented by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and deplored that their 680-page submission had almost nothing to do with the Sharif family’s London properties.

Pointing at PTI’s counsel Hamid Khan, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed that it seemed as if the petitioners were trying to bury the truth under their evidence that consisted mostly of newspaper clippings, which were only good for selling pakoras the day after publication.

“We are at a loss to understand which lawyer is representing whom,” the judge observed, comparing the PTI’s tome of evidence to the never-ending tales from the Arabian Nights. “We spent six hours simply looking for the relevant document,” Justice Saeed deplored, asking Hamid Khan again — tongue-in-cheek — whose side he was on.

However, Mr Khan assured the court that he would focus on the controversy, but only after examining the documents submitted by the prime minister and his family, for which he needed more time.

At this point, Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali regretted that both sides were using every possible device to delay the proceedings. He observed that day by day, the court’s perception that the controversy could be settled without appointing a commission was being proven wrong.

Judges deplore submission of irrelevant, voluminous documents will delay outcome of Panamagate probe

The volume of the documents the court was receiving had ensured that the proceedings could not even be concluded in six months, the court regretted.

The chief justice also made it clear that since a hearing under Article 184(3) had serious consequences in the absence of any appeal against the decision of the apex court, the court would be cautious and would avoid technicalities so that nobody could later claim that they were not provided an opportunity to present their viewpoint.

Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told the bench that the whole country was looking to the court, adding that time was of the essence in determining the matter at hand.

“Today, a document has come from Qatar. Tomorrow, they may submit another document from Mahatma Gandhi, attested by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he alleged.

“Once a liar is always a liar,” Mr Rashid said, questioning the motive behind submitting the document from the Qatari ex-prime minister, which claimed that the London properties were held by the Al Thani family before they were transferred to Hussain Nawaz in 2006.

Mr Rashid also asked the court not to refer the matter to a judicial commission. He was of the opinion that the bench should hear and conclude the matter on its own.

When he concluded his remarks, the chief justice said Sheikh Rashid would have had more success if he had opted for a career in law.

But earlier, Asad Manzoor Butt, appearing on behalf of Jamaat-i-Islami emir Siraj-ul-Haq, asked the court to appoint a judicial commission so that everybody could have an opportunity to present their case.

Tariq Asad, another petitioner, said that the court should at least proceed against those who were either in government, opposition or engaged in government service, and whose names had surfaced in the Panama Papers leaks. He also requested the court to initiate a probe against former president Pervez Musharraf.

At this, the chief justice wondered aloud whether he was representing the respondents or the petitioner, and reiterated that it was not the job of the Supreme Court to hold trials or probe corruption going back to 1947.

The chief justice observed that the court had taken up Imran Khan’s petition as a test case because it it was focused on highlighting the issue of the four London flats.

The court then postponed further proceedings until Thursday and directed all parties to exchange documents before the end of the day on Tuesday.

Published in Dawn November 16th, 2016


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