ISLAMABAD: Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Tuesday dropped a bombshell by alleging that his search discovered a number of properties in London in the name of Assets Recovery Unit’s (ARU) chairman Mirza Shahzad Akbar as well as other leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), including Prime Minister Imran Khan, and former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf.
In an application submitted to the Supreme Court, the petitioner judge told it that he took a cue from the ARU chairman’s claim that properties in the United Kingdom could be searched by anyone by using the search engine 192.com. The application said the search engine was used to find out the properties of a few known public figures. The search result suggested that Shahzad Akbar owned five properties in the UK, former special assistant to the prime minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan owned one, Zulfikar Bukhari seven, Mohammad Usman Dar three, Imran Khan Niazi six, Jehangir Khan Tareen one and Pervez Musharraf two properties in the UK.
Application submitted to SC says properties were acquired illegally
The petitioner judge alleged that these people, all well-known public figures, had illegally acquired these properties in the UK in violation of the income tax, foreign exchange or money laundering laws, the application stated.
It stated that before an allegation of non-compliance with the income tax law was made, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) must check its records and consider how much taxable income was declared and income tax paid by these individuals.
The FBR should also consider whether these individuals had taxable income such as from the agricultural land, which was exempted from the payment of income tax.
Before making an allegation with regard to the illegal transfer of money abroad, the State Bank of Pakistan must check to determine whether these individuals had foreign exchange accounts and whether through their accounts money was remitted abroad to exclude the possibility of being sent to the UK through Hawala, Hundi or by any other illegal means, the application pleaded.
Assuming that these individuals had failed in respect of these questions, they would still be entitled to be given opportunity to provide an explanation and without first seeking an explanation, and without a shred of evidence, an allegation must not be made that the spouses of these individuals were the real owners of the properties, the application said.
What surely should not be done is to call upon these individuals to do the impossible — disprove that the allegations is not true.
The application pleaded before the Supreme Court to consider and declare that the ARU was illegal and working without any legal effect and any of the actions taken by the unit with regard to the reference against the petitioner judge and his family was illegal and of no legal effect.
Similarly, Shahzad Akbar and Zia Mustafa Nasim, the legal expert of the ARU, be ordered to be prosecuted by the authorities under the relevant laws, including the Banking Ordinance 1962, the National Database and Registration Authority Ordinance, 2000, the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 for accessing, obtaining, copying or disseminating the documents and records of the petitioner judge and his family, the application said.
Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2020