May 312017

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) some pertinent questions regarding the latter's jurisdiction in probing matters relating to a political party's foreign funding.

The court was hearing a petition filed by PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi against the alleged possession of illegal properties and tax theft committed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan and party leader Jahangir Tareen.

The counsel for PTI, Naeem Bukhari, took the opportunity to clarify his client Imran Khan's ownership of Niazi Services Ltd. (NSL).

Explore: ECP rejects Imran Khan's response in contempt of court case

He said Imran Khan was neither a shareholder nor a director of NSL, rather, his sisters were shareholders of the company.

Bukhari told the court; "Omitting NSL from the election nomination papers may have been the result of a callous mistake rather than an ill-intentioned move."

The counsel informed the court that they could not procure documents detailing the assets managed by NSL and invited Hanif Abbasi, the petitioner in this case, to do so.

"Imran Khan declared his London flat following an amnesty scheme," Bukhari told the court, to which CJ Nisar asked; "Are you saying Imran Khan took full benefit of the amnesty scheme?"

Bukhari further said that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had no evidence implicating the PTI chief.

The court, however, asked the PTI counsel to submit details of five past transactions and to explain how and when the monies were received. "You have to prove the money trail," CJ Nisar maintained.

The SC then presented a number of questions directed towards the ECP, asking it to submit a response.

"Under what circumstances can the ECP hear a case regarding foreign funding?", the court asked, adding "How does the ECP have the authority to take suo motto notice on such a matter?"

Among other questions, the SC asked how and when would details of an ECP-led investigation into financial discrepancies be made public.

An ECP representative told the court the body will submit a written reply to the apex court's questions.

The court's proceedings will resume on Thursday [tomorrow].

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