ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it still remains to be seen where money for Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s London flat came from.
“We will have to see where the money for the London flat came from,” Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, heading a three-judge bench of the apex court, remarked after hearing the rebuttal presented by the counsel for PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi.
The bench was hearing Abbasi’s petition which seeks the disqualification of Imran Khan and PTI secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen over non-disclosure of assets, existence of offshore companies owned by Imran and Tareen as well as PTI being a foreign-aided party.
Earlier, as he began his rebuttal before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Abbasi’s counsel, Akram Sheikh, brought into question the validity of documents submitted by Imran’s lawyer regarding the transfer of funds for the purchase of the Bani Gala property.
In the previous hearing of the case, on September 28, Imran’s lawyer, Naeem Bokhari, had sought to respond to the questions put forth by the SC regarding the money trail of the Bani Gala property.
Bokhari had presented documents and a letter sent by the PTI chief’s former wife, Jemima, via email before the bench, verifying that Imran had returned to her a sum of Rs6.5 million that she had “gifted to him”.
Abbasi’s lawyer told the court that the addresses on the documents submitted by Bokhari did not match, alleging that they were not verified.
“If the documents are not verified, what should we do?” the chief justice asked, inquiring if the court had the option of calling for the real documents.
Sheikh also brought into question the £79,000 that he said Imran had paid to the architect of the Bani Gala property.
“Will they , the PTI, not tell us where this amount came from?” Sheikh asked, adding that Imran’s lawyer had not submitted documents regarding the matter.
“You are assigning us the role of an accountant,” Justice Umar Atta Bandial said in response to Sheikh’s arguments. The judge told the lawyer that he had ventured outside the scope of the case and he should limit his arguments.
“How much was Imran’s London flat bought for?” Justice Faisal Arab asked the counsel, questioning if the prosecution had challenged the defence on this matter.
Sheikh told the court that Imran had adopted the position that the Bani Gala property was bought through the sale of the London flat.
He added that Imran has had no source of income in Pakistan and that the PTI chief had accepted that his company Niazi Services Limited had remained functional till 2013.
“We have to see where the money for the London flat came from,” the chief justice said.
Prosecution raising important questions
Sheikh also maintained Imran had transferred to Jemima a sum larger than the loan he owed her.
“If there is Rs0.1m in the bank account and the expenditure stands at Rs150,000, then there is a need for clarity,” the counsel said, explaining his argument.
“The prosecution is raising highly important questions,” the chief justice said while addressing PTI’s lawyer.
“We will have to look at our jurisdiction to see what kind of verdict can be given,” Justice Arab added.
Sheikh said that while he had not raised the question in the court, the petitioner had wondered why the sum had been transferred to Jemima through Imran’s cousin, Rashid Khan. He pointed out that Khan had accepted that he had taken a loan from his former wife but had not made this apparent before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
As the bench mulled over how transactions between a husband and a wife should be treated, Sheikh maintained that the court had already set a precedent by dismissing the review petitions of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Panamagate case.
“If it is proven that Jemima’s name was written on the documents regarding the Bani Gala property, I will leave this court room,” Sheikh said. “What statement of Imran Khan’s should we accept?”
“Whether Imran returned a loan to his wife or a gift will have to be made apparent,” Sheikh said.
“The first thing is where did the money for the Bani Gala property come from?”Justice Bandial asked.
Bokhari, stepping in, told the bench that a few days back, the PTI chief had received the confirmation from the bank, that the SC had sought, verifying that the sum had been transferred to Jemima’s account.
The chief justice pointed out that Imran had not declared the Bani Gala property in his nomination papers. “Was it required of him to declare the gift given to him by his wife?” asked the bench.
The chief justice, then, inquired after the details regarding the remaining £99,000 in the bank account of Niazi Services Ltd.
He said that details of the company’s bank account provided by the defence earlier had shown the balance to be zero. Later, however, the £99,000 were shown. “We will have to see details regarding the sum,” said the chief justice. ‘We are reviewing the integrity of a person.”
Shiekh argued that if a loan was pending on Imran in 2002, it was necessary for him to declare it.
Maintaining that if Imran had taken a loan from his wife, he should have declared it in his nomination papers, the counsel read out a paragraph from the SC’s Panamagate verdict.
The paragraph pertained to Capital FZE, the Dubai-based company owned by Nawaz’s son Hussain, for which the former premier served as a chairman. The salary from his position had not been declared in Nawaz’s nomination papers and therefore, he was disqualified.
“To say that Imran Khan is an angel is not true,” Sheikh said.
At the end of the hearing, the chief justice clarified that a verdict had not been reserved in the case and that further documents are to be presented before the court.
The hearing on Imran and Tareen’s disqualification case has been adjourned until today.