ISLAMABAD: When the legal team of the ousted prime minister seeks a review of the Supreme Court decision to disqualify him, a main aspect of their case may be the fact that Nawaz Sharif was not given an opportunity to explain his position before the larger bench.

In its unanimous 5-0 judgement, the apex court bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had disqualified Mr Sharif because he had failed to disclose his receivable income from the UAE-based firm Capital FZE in his nomination papers for the 2013 general elections.

This, sources said, came as surprise to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership. Although they were convinced that corruption references would be sent to the accountability court on the basis of the allegations levelled in the Panama Papers case, no one could have imagined that the prime minister would be disqualified on the basis of “a mere technicality”.

Though a final decision has yet to been taken, it is likely that the same legal team that represented the Sharif family before the three-judge implementation bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, may be asked to prepare the petition seeking a review of the July 27 judgement.

Legal team may seek review on basis that PM wasn’t summoned before larger bench

In the Sharifs’ view, the issue of Capital FZE should have been heard by all five judges. In addition, they believe that the court did not afford Nawaz Sharif the opportunity to explain his position by calling him before the larger bench, despite its own directive to this effect in the order of April 20.

In the court, Mr Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed had argued that his position as chairman of Capital FZE’s board was merely a ceremonial one, acquired in 2007 while the former PM was in exile.

The counsel had maintained that the ex-PM had nothing to do with the running of the company, nor did he draw the monthly salary of 10,000 UAE dirhams. Therefore, the salary never constituted an asset.

But the judgement held that even if he did not withdraw the salary, it remained a receivable amount that qualified as an asset.

As such, it had to be declared to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) under Section 12(2) (f) of the Representation of People Act (Ropa), the verdict said.

When Mr Sharif did not disclose this asset, it amounted to furnishing a false declaration under solemn oath. This rendered him dishonest in terms of Section 99(1)(f) of Ropa and Article 62(1)(f) of the Consti­tu­tion, the judgement concluded.

In the April 27 verdict, the Sup­reme Court also recalled its own earlier observations about top officials at the National Acc­ountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), who “may not cast their prying eyes on the misdeeds and lay their arresting hands on the shoulders of the elites on account of their being amenable to the influence of the latter or because of their being beholden to the persons calling the shots in the matters of their appointment posting and transfer”.

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2017

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