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Petition filed in SC for FBR probe into offshore investment

ISLAMABAD: A day before the retirement of one of the members of a five-judge Supreme Court bench hearing the Panama Papers leaks case, another petition was moved on Thursday seeking an order for the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to conduct an independent investigation into allegations about investment in offshore companies by Pakistanis.

The final outcome of the FBR probe then be placed before the Supreme Court, pleaded the petition filed by Barrister Zafarullah Khan of the Watan Party, which apparently tilts in favour of the PML-N government.

Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali retires on Friday (today) and Justice Mian Saqib Nisar will take the oath on Saturday as the 25th Chief Justice of Pakistan.

The new chief justice will constitute a new bench either by heading the bench or appointing another judge to resume hearing of the case afresh sometime in January next year.

Taking advantage of the situation, Barrister Zafarullah argued in his petition that parliament be provided the opportunity to consider forming a committee by itself to look into the allegations, especially when Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan had ended his boycott of the National Assembly and raised the Panamagate issue in the last session of the lower house.

In his earlier petition, Barrister Zafarullah had pleaded that the parliamentary committee be allowed to sort out the issue. He had opposed the idea of appointing a judicial commission.

But the Supreme Court had on Oct 20 dismissed his petition on the grounds that the contentions raised in it were premature.

In his fresh petition, Barrister Zafarullah said the FBR had started investigation against the owners of offshore companies and issued notices to 444 individuals who had invested in nine tax havens, including the British Virgin Island, Bahamas, Panama, Seychelles, Samoa, Maurtius, Anguilla and Jersey.

The petitioner requested the court not to entertain the pending petitions of the PTI, Jamaat-i-Islami, Sheikh Rashid and Tariq Asad because the issues highlighted by them were of personal and political nature.

“These issues were raised to get cheap popularity through the Supreme Court at the expense of public time and sufferings,” the petition said, adding that since these issues related to parliament, the parliamentary committee was needed to be formed to look into the illegalities committed.

It said that after the parliamentary committee completed its work, its findings should be placed before the Election Commission of Pakistan through the National Assembly speaker to dismember the parliamentarians found involved in the illegalities.

Barrister Zafarullah alleged that the petitioners had wrongly attributed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the Panama Papers leaks only for personal and political gains, which showed that these petitions were of political nature and could not be filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

The petition recalled that the Panama Papers had unveiled the offshore holdings of 140 politicians and officials, including 12 current and former presidents of different countries, monarchs and prime ministers, and even sitting and retired judges of a high court of Pakistan.

courtesy : dawn news

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