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SC take notice of corruption cases

24 November, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that corruption had permeated into every department for which something needed to be done holistically so that the monster be dumped once and for all.

A two-member Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and Justice Maqbool Baqir was hearing petitions filed by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq and Tariq Asad advocate, seeking detailed inquiry into the funding trail and the transfer of money to offshore companies by all those persons including politicians named in the Panama leaks.

During the preliminary hearing, the court issued notices to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the federal government with a direction to submit a comprehensive report on the action taken so far against 436 Pakistani nationals whose names surfaced in the Panama leaks.

Tariq Asad advocate submitted before the court that strict action should be taken against those who had been engaged in corrupt practices and set up offshore companies in Panama. He submitted that the offshore companies were established abroad in order to evade taxes, adding that strict action must be taken against all those who were engaged in money laundering. He requested the court to implead interior ministry, the government and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan as respondents in the case.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan asked the petitioner whether he was seeking action against all those who possessed assets beyond their known sources of income. He said it was the responsibility of NAB to conduct investigations, adding it was not responsibility of the apex court to determine whose assets were beyond means.

The court adjourned the proceedings for an indefinite period. The petitions seeking a court order against all those Pakistani nationals who have stashed fortunes in offshore companies were filed by JI chief Sirajul Haq and Tariq Asad advocate making the Federation of Pakistan through Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs as respondent.

Hearing cases against deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members in the backdrop of Panama Papers leaks, a five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa on January 24, 2017 had separated the JI chief’s petition from others, noting that the grounds taken in the plea were too wide. The court, however, had assured the JI chief that his petition would be taken up at some convenient time. On Nov 3, 2017, the JI chief filed an application seeking early hearing of his pending petition.

In his application filed through his lawyer Ishtiaq Raja, the JI chief had expressed the fear that if his pending petition was not fixed for early hearing, he as well as the public at large would suffer the irreparable losses. The application had stated that the petition was moved in the larger national interest in order to save the public money, thus any delay in taking up the matter would facilitate the owners of the offshore companies to further camouflage their money.

Sirajul Haq did not annex any supporting documents with his petition, however he requested the court to order the five respondents- federal government through the parliamentary affairs ministry, secretaries of law and justice, finance and cabinet divisions and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) – to arrest all those who had invested the plundered money in offshore companies.

The petition further requested the court to order the respondents to bring the public money, which had illegally been transferred to the offshore companies, back to the country and deposit it with the national exchequer.

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