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SC to give verdict on Imran Khan-Jahangir Tareen disqualification case today

15 December, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will hand down on Friday (today) the anxiously-awaited judgement that will determine the political fate of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan and secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen amid the turbulent political environment in the country.

Once again, Courtroom No 1 will be the focus of attention when a three-judge bench consisting of Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab will announce its verdict on two petitions moved on Nov 2 last year by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Hanif Abbasi seeking disqualification of Mr Khan and Mr Tareen for not disclosing their assets, owning offshore companies and running a foreign-aided party.

The verdict will be announced at 2pm after Friday prayers.

Last time, Courtroom No 1 came into limelight when a five-judge SC bench comprising Justices Asif Saeed Khosa, Gulzar Ahmed, Ejaz Afzal Khan, Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Ijaz-ul-Ahsan disqualified Nawaz Sharif as prime minister in the Panama Papers case and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file three corruption references against Mr Sharif and members of his family.

The apex court had on Nov 14 closed the proceedings and reserved its ruling on Mr Abbasi’s petitions.

The Islamabad police have been directed to ensure tight security in and around the Supreme Court to avoid any untoward incident at the time of the announcement of the judgement.

“Will the captain [Imran Khan] continue to stand on the pitch or be shown the pavilion is a million dollar question which can only be answered when the judgement is announced,” commented a senior counsel who observed the entire court proceedings with interest.

When asked about his expectations, senior counsel Mohammad Akram Sheikh, who had argued the case on behalf of Hanif Abbasi, said: “We hope that the Supreme Court will decide in consistence with the law declared by it in a similar matter by a larger bench (Panama Papers case) as the question in the two [cases] are absolutely identical as much as though not corruption or the criminal charge but the concealment of assets and making of false declaration.”

But PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry insisted that it would be absurd drawing comparison between the case of Nawaz Sharif and those of Imran Khan and Jahangir Tareen, adding that the PTI side had during the course of hearing explained the money trail of even a single penny.

Besides, he said, there was no allegation of money laundering or corruption against Mr Khan.

Likewise, he said, the case against Mr Tareen had started with money laundering but ended with allegations of concealment of assets. In this case too, Mr Tareen did not hide anything from the court and come out with clean hands, he added.

Asked if Mr Khan and Mr Tareen would come to the court, along with other party leaders, to witness the historic moment, the spokesman said he would alone be in the courtroom.

Chaudhry Faisal Hussain, who also assisted the PTI’s panel of counsel in the case, said he was confident that the petitions would be dismissed because no allegations of dishonesty could be attributed to Mr Khan or Mr Tareen since both had provided the money trail and accounted for even a single penny. On the other hand, he claimed, Nawaz Sharif and his family had hidden everything from the court and never provided the money trail.

In his concluding arguments, Advocate Naeem Bokhari, the counsel for Imran Khan, had argued that his case should not be treated like that of Panama Papers because there was no question of money going out of the country, though it could be said that there was a ‘young man’ who could not manage his accounts properly.

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