JIT to be constituted for investigating Nawaz Sharif’s involvement in ‘Panama Papers’ scandal

Supreme Court of Pakistan: While addressing the grave issue of involvement of Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif in the ‘Panama Papers’ scandal, a five Judge Bench of Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Ejaz Afzal Khan, Gulzar Ahmed, Azmat Saeed, Ijaz ul Ahsan, JJ., gave direction for the constitution of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising of senior officials and nominees from the Federal Investigation Agency, National Accountability, Security & Exchange Commission of Pakistan, State Bank of Pakistan and Inter Services Intelligence to conduct a thorough investigation and examine the evidences related to the dubious nature of the deals conducted with reference to the existence, sale and liabilities of Gulf Steel Mill; the extent of the involvement of the respondents in the purchase of several properties in early 90s; possession and acquisition disproportionate assets by the dependants of the respondents etc. With a ratio of 3:2, the Bench decided that the question of disqualification of the Prime Minister from Majlis-e- Shoora (Parliament) shall be considered only after the receipt of the final report made by the JIT, which should necessarily be concluded within sixty days from the date of its constitution.

The ‘Panama Papers’ scandal rocked several governments worldwide by exposing high-profile personalities, including Prime Minister Sharif and his family, for their involvement in illegal offshore financial transactions. The Panama Papers are 11.5 million leaked documents that detail financial and attorney–client information for more than 214,488 offshore entities. The documents belonged to the Panamanian law firm and corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca.

Expressing their lament upon the involvement of the PM in a matter of such extensive corruption, 2017 SCC OnLine Pak SC 1the Court observed that it became important for them to pass orders so that the true facts could come before the people of Pakistan who have a fundamental right to be governed in accordance with law. The Court furthermore stated that it is indeed high time that systems are put in place to develop a culture of accountability at all levels in order to cleanse the system and institutions from the evils of corruption, money laundering, loot and plunder of national resources by a few, irrespective of their rank in the system. However the Bench could not reach any consensus regarding the issue of disqualification of the PM. [Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi v. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, 2017 SCC OnLine Pak SC 1 , decided on 20.04.2017]

 

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