As the Supreme Court resumed hearing the Panamagate case on Wednesday, Advocate Salman Akram Raja picked up his arguments where he had left them off.
After welcoming Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed — whose sudden illness had forced a suspension in the case's daily hearings — Raja reminded the court that "this is neither a trial, nor the defendant a witness."
"I will only argue this case based on the evidence present," Raja, who represents Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, continued.
The record for the Sharif family's business dealings for the last 40 to 45 years cannot be reproduced, the counsel said, as "it was lost during the 1999 martial law."
The counsel also argued that the court cannot reach a just conclusion in the case without first conducting a judicial inquiry.
The matter can be sent to relevant departments for inquiry as the Arsalan Iftikhar case determined that trials for cases can be held at corresponding forums, Salman Akram Raja told the court.
"A court has never conducted an independent inquiry in any criminal case," Raja argued, adding that Article 10 of the Constitution says that every citizen of this country deserves a fair trial and that departments formed under the law should be allowed to do their job.
"There is no charge against the Prime Minister, so there is no charge against his children either," he continued.
"If we suppose that the PM's children are his employees, according to the National Accountability Bureau's laws, then the burden of proof does not fall on the defendants," Raja argued in court.
"This is not a criminal court, so even if Hassan and Hussain Nawaz are suspects, there is no proof against them," he added.
There were eight questions that the court posed to the defendants, including the relationship between Mian Mohammad Sharif and the Al Sani family, the shares in Nielsen and Nescoll, and the profits the family gained from them, the counsel recalled.
Lawyer Salman Akbar said that Sharif family has ties with more than one Qatari royal family but he cannot disclose the name of other royal families before the court due to certain reasons.
“There were questions about the trust deed as well, and in this hearing, I will answer all these questions,” he told the court.
Justice Khosa advised Raja that he should first finish his arguments before answering the court’s questions.
Moving on to the matter of the London flats, Hussain Nawaz’s counsel argued that the flats were bought by the Al Thani family between 1993 and 1996.
“The Sharif family did not own the flats in 1999, as Hussain Nawaz was given the bearer certificate to the flats by the Al Thani family,” Raja argued. He added that the shares for the flats were given to Minerva Financial Services in 2006.
Upon hearing this argument, Justice Azmat Saeed asked the counsel to provide a paper trail for these transactions, and said, “You have been moving from one point to the other since the beginning, but have failed to provide any evidence in this regard.”
The allegation is that Maryam Nawaz contacted Minerva Holdings, Raja retorted, upon this the bench asked that evidence should be proved that Hussain Nawaz is the beneficial owner of the offshore companies.
PTI's new evidence
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) had announced on Tuesday that it would submit three more documents to disprove the stance adopted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family, but the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is not convinced.
“We are submitting three more documents — one from PTI chairman Imran Khan that authenticates all previous documents presented by the party, the expert opinion of UK-based lawyers and a document that proves that Maryam Nawaz is the owner of UK-based firms Minerva, Nielson and Nescoll,” PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry told a press conference.
He said that Imran Khan would submit an affidavit stating that all documents previously submitted by the party were credible and authentic.
PML-N MNA Daniyal Aziz told Dawn that PTI’s lawyers had already completed their arguments and submitted all the evidence they had to the apex court. “Once they have completed their arguments, how can they file more documents?”
Earlier in the case
At the last hearing on Jan 31, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had cautioned Advocate Raja that he was taking a big gamble by withholding evidence behind the Sharifs’ acquisition of the four London flats.
The bench had postponed day-to-day proceedings after Justice Saeed had to be rushed to the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology following chest pains on Jan 31.
The next day, at the 19th consecutive hearing of the matter, Justice Khosa had announced that the next hearing would be held only after Justice Saeed sufficiently recovered.
Those who have already completed their arguments include Naeem Bokhari on behalf of Imran Khan, Makhdoom Ali Khan on behalf of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Shahid Hamid appearing for Maryam Nawaz, her husband retired Capt Mohammad Safdar and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, and Taufiq Asif, who represents Jammat-i-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq.