The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought evidence backing the statement that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Secretary General Jahangir Tareen is not the owner of 18,500 acres of land but is instead using them on contract from a number of people.
A three-member apex bench ─ headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Atta Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab ─ was hearing a petition filed by PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi which seeks the disqualification of Tareen and PTI Chief Imran Khan over the alleged non-disclosure of assets, existence of offshore companies, as well as receiving foreign funding for PTI.
During the hearing of the case, the apex court asked Tareen's lawyer, Advocate Sikander Mohmand, to submit details of the real owner of the contracted land.
Advocate Mohmand told the court that his client had acquired the land on contract in 2010. He added that the sugarcane that grows on the land is bought by Tareen's sugar mills, JK Farming Systems Ltd.
He told the court that 86 farms have been established on the 18,500 acre land within a radius of 150 kilometers in the districts of Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur and Sadiqabad.
The chief justice told the lawyer that the lease agreement presented in court has no importance at this time.
"You are relying on cross-checks and not presenting the real record," the chief justice said, adding that the lawyer would be faced with a problem if the court "makes an observation during the cross-checks."
"The question is whether the parties that you have identified as owners of the contracted land, are indeed the owners," the chief justice said. "We want to make sure that while someone else's name is appearing on papers, Tareen is not the actual real owner."
The chief justice said that the real record can only be obtained from the Punjab Land Revenue. However, the lawyer told the court that only the name of the landowner appears on the records, not the name of the person farming the land.
Advocate Mohammad told the court that his client cannot be disqualified in relation to the matter pertaining to the payment of agricultural tax as there is no system of checking agricultural income in Punjab.
"Jahangir Tareen cannot be held accountable for flaws in the system," the lawyer said.
"All we know is that in Punjab, tax has to be paid on agricultural income," the chief justice said.
Justice Bandial asked the lawyer why Tareen had sold a 200-acre piece of land when it was generating profit.
"It is difficult to understand why the land was sold when profits were being generated?" the judge said.
The court summoned the relevant record from the land revenue authority.
Imran's lawyer presents additional documents
During Tuesday's hearing, PTI chairman's lawyers, Naeem Bokhari, admitted before the court that £99,000 that were left in the bank account of Niazi Services Ltd ─ Imran's off-shore company ─ after repayment of loans to Jemima Khan did not belong to his client.
"We could not get the entire record of Niazi Services Ltd," the lawyer told the bench as he submitted additional documents before the court.
The court issued a notice to Akram Sheikh, the lawyer representing the petitioner, to respond to the additional documents presented by Bokhari.
In the previous hearing of the case, as the prosecution and the defense wrapped up their arguments, the court made it clear that it had not reserved its judgement in the disqualification case against Imran.
The hearing for Tareen's case was adjourned until Wednesday.