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Imran disqualification case: SC again dissatisfied with PTI counsel’s response

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday once again stated that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawyer failed to give a satisfactory response in the Imran Khan disqualification case.

The counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has sought to respond to the questions asked by the Supreme Court regarding the transfer of funds for the purchase of his Bani Gala property.

The court had resumed hearing PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi’s petition in which disqualification of Khan and PTI secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen had been sought over non-disclosure of assets, existence of offshore companies owned by Imran Khan and Tareen as well as PTI being a foreign-aided party.

The counsel, Naeem Bokhari, recalled that the court had sought answers to two questions in the last hearing: why Imran Khan had not declared before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) the presence of 75,000 British pounds in Barclays Private Bank and Trust Ltd; and if the funds had been transferred from one account to the other, why the bank statement of 2003 was not presented.

Bokhari argued that it was the job of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), and not the ECP to inquire about the income, assets and liabilities.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, who was heading the three-judge bench, asked the counsel whether the 75,000 pounds did not constitute Khan’s assets. Bokhari replied in negative.

“We reject the allegation that the money was remitted as a gift to evade tax,” he said.The ECP does not have the right to determine income, assets and expenditures, the counsel maintained. He regretted that Khan did not submit a clause-by-clause reply. “You have not presented the arguments you are making today in any previous hearing,” the chief justice responded, addressing the counsel.

He said Bokhari had not disclosed before that Khan’s ex-wife Jemima had given Rs6.5 million as a gift to him. At this, the counsel said that monetary exchange between wife and husband does not qualify as a loan; financial issues between the two are personal matters.

The chief justice then observed that the allegation against Khan is that he acquired the Bani Gala property through money laundering, which the PTI chief has denied. He said Jemima gifted Rs6.5m to Khan and the money was returned; the court required accounts details for the same. “Where are the details regarding the transfer of the sum from Jemima’s account and the return of that sum from Imran Khan’s account?” Justice Nisar asked.

Bokhari said Jemima had received 562,000 pounds, to which Justice Umar Atta Bandial asked for documents proving the same. The counsel also presented a letter sent by Jemima via email verifying that Khan had returned the 562,000 pounds.

The chief justice observed that Khan has so far provided money trail of only three payments, including those of $33,000, $270,000 and 20,000 pounds. Documents showing money had travelled from the account of Niazi Services Limited (NSL), Khan’s offshore company, to Jemima’s account could fill the gaps in the money trail, Justice Nisar observed.

Bokhari further argued that the 174,000 pounds remaining in the accounts of NSL did not belong to Khan and neither could he withdraw it. He said that a London court had ordered NSL to pay 48,000 pounds to the tenant. The hearing was adjourned until October 3 after Bokhari completed his arguments.

During his arguments, PTI counsel Naeem Bukhari said that an email has been sent to Imran’s former wife Jemima Khan.

Jemima has confirmed receiving 75,000 pounds, said Bukhari, adding that she has assured that she will send the bank details after finding them.

Justice Umar said that the documents do not prove that Imran Khan brought money back from London.Meanwhile, Abbasi’s counsel Akram Sheikh said that the bank statement submitted by Imran is of May 19, 2017 although the case is years old.

The Chief Justice in his remarks said that it was a simple case but it has been made so much complicated.

The CJ further said that the responsibility of providing evidence regarding financial transactions is of Imran Khan.

Naeem Bukhari said that regarding the Niazi Services Limited ownership he will soon give a complete reply.

The petition seeks the disqualification of Imran Khan and PTI Secretary General Jahangir Tareen for the non-disclosure of assets, ownership of offshore companies and for PTI being a foreign-funded party.

INP

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