LAHORE: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that contents of the Panama Papers have “no credibility/standing in the eyes of law and are inadmissible as evidence before any court”.
He said so in a written reply submitted on Wednesday to Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, whose court is seized with a petition challenging the National Assembly speaker’s act of dismissing a reference for Mr Sharif’s disqualification as a member of the legislature in the wake of Panama Papers leaks.
The reply was filed by former attorney general Salman Aslam Butt on behalf of the premier.
In his reply, Mr Sharif not only challenged the territorial but also the constitutional jurisdiction of the LHC in taking up the petition moved by a member of the Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party, which was set up by former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. He also challenged locus standi of the petitioner.
The reply said the speaker duly passed the impugned order in exercise of the powers conferred upon him under Article 63(2) of the Constitution and it did not merit any interference by the court as already settled by the Supreme Court in various judgements.
Mr Sharif contended that the petitioner had failed miserably “to substantiate the incorrect, false and misconceived revelations made in the Panama Papers through credible, cogent and admissible evidence”.
He said the reference filed before the speaker was devoid of any merit and substance and had been dismissed rightly. He also denied obtaining loans for any of the London-based properties referred to in the reference rejected by the speaker.
Mr Sharif maintained that he had not defaulted in any of his obligations towards any financial institution.
He said that no adverse order had been passed against him in any of the judgements of the Supreme Court, as cited by the petitioner in the reference.
He urged the court to dismiss the petition for being not maintainable and to burden the petitioner with heavy cost for “initiating a false and frivolous case”.
In their separate replies, the speaker and the federal law ministry also defended the impugned decision.
Chief Justice Shah adjourned further hearings till Dec 1 and directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to submit its reply.
The petitioner had submitted that the decision of the speaker was in violation of the Constitution and judgements of the apex court.
He said the speaker dismissed the reference without citing any reason. The speaker did not enjoy judicial powers as he was supposed to forward the reference to the ECP after a bare perusal of it.
He said the speaker had acted beyond his powers by dismissing the reference.
The petitioner asked the court to set aside the decision of the speaker and order him to forward the reference to the ECP accordingly.