JI submits reply to SC questions for probe into Panama leaks case

ISLAMABAD   -  The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) on Tuesday submitted the reply to the questions posed by the Supreme Court for the investigation into 436 persons involved in Panama leaks case.

A two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Aminuddin Khan, on June 9, 2023 after hearing the argument of the JI lawyer had framed nine questions and directed him to file their reply.

In this matter, JI Amir Sirajul Haq has moved petition seeking probe against 436 Pakistanis named in Panama Papers leaks. The court had questioned how and under what circumstance this petition was de-linked from other petitions and what was the purpose of detaching this petition from others.

To that the JI replied that originally it had filed the petition after the Panama Leaks in April 2016 with Chairman National Accountability Bureau for holding a detailed inquiry against all the Pakistani nationals, who had transferred money/national assets abroad.

It explained that during the hearing of the Constitution petitions No 28, 29 & 30/2016 it was observed by the court that Jamaat-e-Islami wants action against all the persons named in Panama scandal, while the petition 29 &30/2016 are only to the extent of action against the then prime minister. The court said that if it would take up JI petition then it will take years to hear and decide them, therefore directed the JI to delink its Constitution petition 28/2016 as the court wanted to decided first the case against the public office holder.

The JI reply maintained in the light of the court direction filed second Constitution petition No 03/2017 with a new prayer that the respondent (ex-PM Nawaz Sharif) hold property in London and had evaded taxes therefore he be disqualified under Article 62(i)(f) of the constitution.

The JI mentioned that therefore the bench hearing those petition delinked it’s petition from other two petitions. Regarding question whether the matter in hand is not covered by Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, with regard to the tax liability of the concerned persons. And whether the liability of tax is not within the purview of the officers of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR)? Whether the State Bank of Pakistan, directions of SBP and Foreign Exchange Manual are not relevant with regard to money sent abroad for purchase of said properties? Whether FBR, SBP and other relevant departments do not have their own hierarchy for deciding matter and their final orders may ultimately be challenged before the High Court and the SC? Whether the petitioner approached the SBP, FBR, FIA and Anti- Corruption Department against the persons named in Panama Leaks?

The JI reply stated that the role of Income Tax Department, FBR and SBP has been discussed in para 18 & 19 of Panama detailed judgment. It also informed that they had submitted an application before the NAB, but it showed difficulties taking action against 600 Pakistanis whose names appeared in Panama Papers inter alia the authenticity and genuineness of over 11.5 documents released by private law firm.

About the allegations of tax evasion, illegal remittances from Pakistan, the NAB told that concerned regulators – FBR, SBP and SECP can look into the matter.

The JI reply further maintained that the issue of Panama Leaks was also agitated from the forum of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by one of its members Dr Arif Alvi, MNA (PTI). The committee issued notices to the concerned regulators including Finance Division, SBP, SECP, FBR, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NAB and FIA. It stated that the NAB told PAC about its handicap to proceed on not genuine documents. The chairman FBR intimated about issuance of notices and progress of the probe. The governor SBP and chairman SECP about the process initiated by them to determine the illegalities, if any, found committed. The FIA told it has not been conferred any powers to investigate and prosecute matters relating to the holders of public office.

Regarding the SC question whether in the presence of the existing statutory bodies and institutions, a commission as sought should be constituted for inquiring into the matter in hand?

The JI reply stated that the working of these statutory bodies and institutions neither will be curtailed, nor hampered in any manner, rather these institutions will be the information providers to the Commission and may be some responsible officer included as a member of the Commission or JITs.

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