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SC upholds Jahangir Tareen’s lifetime disqualification


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The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the review petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Khan Tareen against his disqualification by the apex court. Tareen had been disqualified in December 2017 under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution by the Supreme Court on a petition filed by Abbasi for misdeclaration of assets.

The disqualification was made on the same provision under which former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was held ineligible to hold public office for life in the Panama Papers case. In the review petition against his disqualification, Tareen had informed the court that he could not present legal instruments and specific documents regarding his trust — Shiny View Limited (SVL) — and a property — Hyde House — during the course of litigation because they were not in his personal knowledge, possession or control.

 “The respondent is declared not to be an honest person. He ceased to be a member of the parliament. The respondent is disqualified”. 

Background

In December 2017, SC disqualified Tareen in a graft case and said it was not a counter-blast following the ousting of ex-prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. While reading his long-awaited judgment, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar said, the SC ruled that Tareen was unable to reply to the specific questions raised during the case proceedings. “The respondent is declared not to be an honest person. He ceased to be a member of the parliament. The respondent is disqualified”.

The Chief Justice wrote in his judgment, “we hold and declare that in view of our findings on the proposition about the off-shore company (in short) covered by clause (e) of the conclusion, the respondent is disqualified in terms of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution read with Section 99(1)(f) of ROPA for the non-declaration of his property/asset i.e. “Hyde House” in his nomination papers, and in making untrue statement before this Court, that he has no beneficial interest in SVL, therefore, he should cease to hold the office as the member of the National Assembly with immediate effect”.

Read more: Why Jahangir Tareen’s unwavering commitment to ‘Naya Pakistan’ is commendable?

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Hanif Abbasi had filed the petition in November 2016 against the disqualification of the two PTI leaders on the backdrop of non-disclosure of assets and existence of their offshore companies, as well as receiving foreign funds for their party.

Non-Disclosure of Hyde House as Asset led to Disqualification

Jahangir Tareen was accused of concealing the facts submitted in the general elections of 2013 and the by-elections of 2015. Primary emphasis has been on his 12-acre Hyde House bought for 2.1 million pounds. Tareen however, argued that the funds to purchase this property were a gift to his children and were lawfully transferred from the country. However, eventually, it was proved that “the actual, true, real and beneficial owner of the said property is the respondent.”

Tareen failed to declare Hyde House in nomination papers filed, which proved him dishonest.

Tareen had been disqualified in December 2017 under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution by the Supreme Court on a petition filed by Abbasi for misdeclaration of assets.

Land Lease Charge

Tareen was also accused of non-disclosure of agricultural land on lease. The difference is observed between the details submitted by the lawmaker in the election nomination papers and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). The defense lawyer was successful in making a point that there was no compulsion to show it in the nomination papers since the leased land was not his property. Tareen had declared the income from this leased land and paid taxes as per law. The court agreed and declared it a sub judice matter.

Read more: Was the disqualification of Jahangir Tareen the right decision?

Insider Trading Charge

PTI’s general secretary was also facing the charge of insider trading and deliberately inflicting the loss on others through his actions. The court said, the respondent was not criminally prosecuted by the Security Exchange Commission SECP under the provisions of Section 15-B of the Ordinance, 1969 and thus, for all intents and purposes this is a past and closed transaction”. SC ruled that SECP has already settled the matter.

Loan Write-off Charge

Tareen was accused of company’s loans written off abusing his power as a public office holder. The court declared, “We are not convinced and persuaded on the proposition that the respondent has got any loans written-off from various banks and thus, has incurred disqualification under Article 63(1)(n) of the Constitution because such loans have been written-off with regard to FPML and was prior to the year 2010, whereas the respondent at that time was not the shareholder or Director of said company”.

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Since he became the director of the company with effect from 29.12.2010 to 4.2.2013, and during this period no loans were written-off, hence, he is not honest. He did not transfer SBL or Hyde House to any trust as claimed by him; it was an asset that Tareen did not declare in his nomination papers on September 9th, 2015.

Moreover, he was wrong to state that he has no beneficial interest in Hyde house or SVL. Because, according to the trust deed dated May 5th, 2011, he is ‘discretionary lifetime beneficiary’ along with his spouse and, therefore, this is a blatant misstatement from JT on the highest judicial forum, which makes him dishonest and the Supreme Court’s decision correct.

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