Supreme Court Adjourns Panama Papers Hearing Till Wednesday

Supreme Court adjourns Panama Papers hearing till Wednesday

ISLAMABAD, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 17th Jan, 2017 ) : The Supreme Court Tuesday adjourned hearing of four identical petitions filed by PTI and others seeking investigation into the Panama papers till Wednesday. A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmad, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan heard the case. Shahid Hamid Counsel of Maryam Nawaz submitted seven-page additional documents before the court.

During the course of proceedings, Advocate Makhdoom Ali Khan counsel for Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif continued his arguments in the case for third consecutive day and clarified that the prime minister had not sought immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution. The speech could not be presented as evidence in the case, he pleaded. The bench remarked that the court was not prosecuting the prime minister over his speech. Makhdoom Ali Khan maintained that Article 248 of the Constitution provided the Prime Minister Office's immunity but did not give blanket cover to the prime minister as an individual.

He made it clear that he was just using Article 248 as a reference and not to plead for immunity to the prime minister. The counsel explained that the president, prime minister and governors had constitutional immunity, except while discussing judges' conduct in the Parliament. He added that if judges' conduct is discussed in the assembly, then immunity would not be extended to members of the Parliament as Article 68 and 204 prevent members from speaking on judges' conduct.

He explained had the prime minister spoken outside the Parliament then he should have asked for immunity under Article 248. Makhdoom Ali Khan mentioned during his arguments that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto also asked for immunity in the Chaudhary Zahur Illahi case. On this Justice Khosa remarked that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had not made a speech in the National Assembly in the Zahur Illahi case, that was why such an example did not apply in this case.

The counsel further argued that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's speech on the floor of the National Assembly could not be used as an evidence. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that there are instances of the past where court would examine parliamentary proceedings. While Makhdoom Ali Khan stated that there were also some instances where the court did not accept speeches as part of the evidence in the past. In case the privilege of immunity is violated, then every Member of Parliament would hesitate before saying anything in the house, the counsel maintained. The hearing has been adjourned till January 18 (Wednesday).