The Supreme Court on Friday disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding open office in a landmark decision on the Panama Papers case.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who had headed the summit court’s implementation bench following its April 20 arrange on the Panama Papers case, announced that the bigger bench had unanimously esteemed PM Sharif unfit for holding office and would also arrange an accountability court to open references against him and his family, and different respondents.
Shortly after the request, the PM House issued a notification saying that Nawaz Sharif, despite having “strong reservations” on the SC’s decision, has stepped down from his post as the head. Reacting to the court’s request, a PML-N spokesperson said that the gathering will use all legitimate and constitutional means to contest the decision.
The judgment, announced shortly after 12pm, brings Sharif’s third term in energy to an unceremonious end, approximately one year before the scheduled general elections which would have seen him turn into the first Pakistani prime minister to finish an entire five-year term. It is unclear at the moment will’s identity appointed to assume control over the post till the next general elections, which are scheduled for 2018.
The government cabinet was dissolved after Nawaz Sharif relinquished his responsibilities as the prime minister of Pakistan. Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq will assume the responsibility of the interim prime minister.
‘Disqualified for being dishonest’
“The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) shall issue a notification disqualifying Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif from being an individual from the Parliament with prompt impact, after which he shall cease to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan,” Justice Khan told the stuffed courtroom.
The judges decided that Nawaz had been dishonest to the parliament and the courts in not disclosing his employment in the Dubai-based Capital FZE company in his 2013 nomination papers, and thus, couldn’t be considered fit for his office.
“It is thus pronounced that having neglected to disclose his un-withdrawn receivables constituting assets from Capital FZE Jebel Ali, UAE in his nomination papers petitioned for the General Elections held in 2013 in terms of Section 12(2)(f) of the Representation of the General population Act, 1976 (ROPA), and having furnished a false declaration under solemn affirmation respondent No. 1 Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is not honest in terms of Section 99(f) of ROPA and Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 and in this manner he is disqualified to be an Individual from the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).”
References in accountability courts
Justice Khan said that the bench had recommended that all material gathered by the joint investigation group (JIT) tasked with probing the Sharif family’s financial dealings be sent to an accountability court within six weeks.
The bench said that on the basis of this information, cases would be opened against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar; MNA Captain Muhammad Safdar; Maryam, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz; as well as the head.
A judgment on these references should be announced within six months, he said. One judge will oversee the implementation of this request.
The references to be documented by NAB under the steady gaze of the accountability court include:
- Against Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Hussain Nawaz Sharif, Hassan Nawaz Sharif, and Capt. (Retd). Muhammad Safdar relating to the Avenfield properties in London, United Kingdom.
- Reference against Nawaz Sharif, and Hussain and Hassan Nawaz regarding Azizia Steel Company and Hill Metal Establishment.
Finance minister to be disqualified
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Captain Safdar, who is a MNA, were also pronounced unfit for office.
ECP has been coordinated to de-seat Dar for “possessing assets and funds beyond his known sources of income”.
Court appreciates JIT’s efforts
The judges “commended and acknowledged” the diligent work and efforts made by members of the JIT in preparing and filing a comprehensive and nitty gritty report.
“Their tenure of service shall be safeguarded and secured and no adverse action of any nature including transfer and posting shall be taken against them without informing the monitoring Judge of this Court nominated by the Honorable Boss Justice of Pakistan,” reads the court arrange.
The lead up
From Friday morning, everyone’s eyes were on Courtroom No. 1 of the Supreme Court in Islamabad, where a five-judge bench was set to announce the highly anticipated decision on the Panama Papers case at 11:30am. The proceedings started around 30 minutes after the fact.
The original five-part bench of the Supreme Court which heard the Panama Papers case issued the final decision. Justices Asif Saeed Khosa, Ejaz Afzal Khan, Gulzar Ahmed, Sheik Azmat Saeed, Ijazul Ahsan were present for the hearing.
According to media reports, the courtroom was completely filled as prominent politicians, lawyers and journalists swarmed the space to hear the judges choose Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s destiny.
The twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi had been on high caution in anticipation of the SC decision.
The Red Zone had also been somewhat sealed and individuals were only being permitted inside in the wake of undergoing identification and strict security checks.
Rangers and Frontier Constabulary personnel had been sent at the Supreme Court and the Red Zone to assist the police.
Speculations before SC judgment
In the course of the last couple of days, the entire country had been awaiting the pinnacle court’s decision anxiously. Gossip, speculation and rumors had been overflowing over when the final decision would be announced and what conclusion the judges would touch base at. The most important question of all remained whether the prime minister would be unseated or not.
On Thursday evening, the Supreme Court office had put all speculation to rest when it issued a supplementary cause list heralding the announcement of the judgment on Friday.
On the announcement that the bigger bench would convey the judgment, lawful observers took the view that the prior minority judgment, which recommended sending the prime minister packing, may turn into a larger part see in case even one of the three greater part judges ruled against the prime minister.
The court could also decide that there is still not enough evidence to topple Sharif, and require a further investigation.
April 20 request and JIT investigation
The April 20 judgment issued by the bigger bench in the Panama Papers case had been split 3-2 among the five judges, with two dissenting notes from Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed. Justice Ejaz Afzal composed the lion’s share opinion in the 540-page judgment.
The two judges who ruled against PM Nawaz Sharif had said he should be disqualified as he couldn’t be considered “honest” and “honest” (ameen and sadiq), whereas the other three were supportive of forming a joint investigation group (JIT) to definitively answer the question of whether the allegations against the prime minister were valid or not.
The court had additionally said that: “upon receipt of the reports, occasional or final of the JIT, as the case might be, the matter of disqualification of respondent No. 1 [Nawaz Sharif] shall be considered. In the event that found necessary for passing a suitable request for this benefit, [Nawaz Sharif or any other person might be summoned and examined.”
A special bench of the Supreme Court was subsequently constituted to examine the case under Section 184/3 of the Constitution. The bench comprised the three judges who had won.
The Supreme Court had on May 6 shaped the JIT, putting a senior officer of the Government Investigation Agency (FIA) in control.
In the wake of considering the background and antecedents of the officer, FIA’s Additional Executive General Wajid Zia, a review 21 officer, was appointed leader of the test group.
Amer Aziz of the State Bank of Pakistan, Official Chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Bilal Rasool, National Accountability Department Executive Irfan Naeem Mangi, Brig Muhammad Nauman Saeed of Inter-Services Intelligence and Brig Kamran Khurshid of the Military Intelligence were appointed as the remaining members of the group.
The six-part JIT’s damning report, submitted following a 60-day investigation that sought answers to 13 questions raised by the Supreme Court’s bigger bench, had maintained that Prime Minister’s family owned assets beyond its known sources of income. It announced that both Hussain and Hassan Nawaz were used as proxies to assemble family assets.
Consequently, the six-man JIT concluded that it was constrained to allude to sections 9(a)(v) and 14(c) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999, which manage corruption and degenerate practices, however such charges are yet to be proven in an accountability court.
The JIT report also featured Articles 122, 117, 129 and different sections of the Qanoon-i-Shahadat Request 1984 (Law of Evidence), which places the burden of disproving the allegations on the person facing accusations.
The JIT pointed out disappointment on the piece of the Sharifs to create the required information that would confirm their “known sources of income”, saying that at first sight, it amounted to saying that they were not ready to reconcile their assets with their means of income.
The prime minister’s girl, Maryam Nawaz, had on the same evening issued a strongly-worded statement for the benefit of the PML-N, saying:
“JIT report REJECTED. Each contradiction won’t only be contested however destroyed in SC. NOT a penny of open exchequer involved: PMLN.”
Her tweet took after a press conference conducted by four senior PML-N leaders, who had taken turns to condemn the JIT report as ‘serving Imran Khan’s agenda’.
The Sharif family’s legitimate group’s strategy in subsequent hearings had focused on discrediting the report, the evidence gathered and the means used to do as such, and raising questions about the fairness and capacity of the six men who had comprised the JIT.