Pakistan News

SC to hear plea for disqualification of Imran next week

SC to hear plea for disqualification of Imran next week

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will resume the hearing on May 3 of a petition seeking disqualification of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan and secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen for not disclosing before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) their assets and offshore companies as well as allegedly running the party through foreign aid.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab will hear the petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi.

Soon after the closing of the Panama Papers case, Mr Abbasi had on Feb 28 moved an application before the court for early hearing of his petition.

“It is not only just and proper but also expedient in the interest of law, justice, fairness, equity and equality that suitable and necessary directions for fixing and hearing of the case be issued,” said the application filed by Advocate Mohammad Akram Sheikh on behalf of the PML-N leader.

On April 25, Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and PML-N MNA Daniyal Aziz expressed their reservations over the delay in the hearing of the petition.

It may be recalled that the ECP has also been hearing for over two years a foreign funding case against the PTI filed by Akbar S. Babar, a dissident and one of the founding members of the party. The commission has reserved its judgement for May 8, but only on the maintainability of the petition.

On Nov 15 last year, former chief justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali took up Mr Abbasi’s petition, but deferred the request whether it be heard by a larger bench or not.

On Nov 30, the PTI alleged in its rejoinder that the PML-N petition was moved with mala fide motivations and in bad faith since the petitioner had a personal grudge against Mr Khan, who had defeated Mr Abbasi in the 2013 elections in his NA-56 Rawalpindi constituency.

The petitioner was also a non-credible person, being an accused in corruption cases and having been tried by the National Accountability Bureau in the ephedrine and Rawalpindi metro bus case, the rejoinder alleged.

On the other hand, Mr Abbasi in his petition alleged that Imran Khan had violated the Income Tax Ordinance 1979 by not declaring his offshore company — Niazi Services Limited (NSL) — in his statement of assets and liabilities submitted to the ECP while filing his nomination papers for contesting different general elections, including that of 2013.

He said that since its incorporation, the NSL had been regularly filing its annual returns and statement of annual share capital and shares as required under the applicable laws of Jersey, Channel Islands. The statement for the year 1988 had been submitted through the company’s directors Uzma Khan and Aleema Khan, sisters of the PTI chief, the petition alleged.

It said the NSL was alive till October 2015, but Mr Khan failed to disclose his ownership interest in the company and later publicly admitted that he had incorporated the offshore company to avoid UK taxes. This fact was also admitted by him in a recent media talk at London’s Heathrow Airport.

The petition also alleged that in his declaration of assets for tax year 2014, Mr Khan had willfully concealed his investment of Rs2.97 million to purchase a luxury apartment at Constitution Avenue’s Grand Hyatt locality in Islamabad.

This was a clear violation of sections 12(2) (f) and 42A, read with section 82 of the Representation of the Peoples Act 1976, and, therefore, he was liable to be disqualified on this account alone, the petition said.

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2017

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