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|Subject : 100 days of Panama Papers case
More than 100 days have passed. The top legal brains of the country representing the parties have already consumed 76 precious hours of the Apex Court in the past 29 hearings of the Panama Leaks case. 20 hearings were conducted by a bench headed by Justice Asif Khosa, January 4, 2017 onwards, and nine hearings by the bench headed by the then Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali from October 19, 2016 to December 9, 2016. Both parties’ counsels have cited about 211 cases. They have read about three dozen excerpts from judicial decisions of some 22 different countries—USA, United Kingdom, Australia, India, Bangladesh and, New Zealand, in particular. Voluminous materials consisting of some 5,000 pages have been presented before the country’s top court so far. Some 154 questions were asked by the judges and the petitioners in this case. Going through the chronology of events, one of worthy judge observed: “It seems a blind man is trying to find a black cat in a dark room which is perhaps not there.”
Salman Akram Raja, counsel for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s sons, was continuing his arguments when the apex court adjourned the hearing on Wednesday due to heart ailment of one of the five judges on the bench. Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed was hospitalized Tuesday evening. During the course of months-long arguments, judges and petitioners’ lawyers have posed some 154 questions to the respondents. It was Justice Azmat Saeed who posed 59 striking questions in this case. Justice Khosa raised 41 questions while Justice Ejaz Afzal put 22 questions to both parties. The remaining 36 questions came from the lawyers as well as Justices Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Gulzar Ahmed. The petitioners’ counsels, including Sheikh Rashid of Awami Muslim League, consumed over 42 hours of the Apex Court while the defence counsel took 34 hours so far. The Government’s (FBR, NAB, SECP and SBP) lawyers and the Attorney General are yet to begin.
The bench led by Justice Khosa heard both parties for 54 long hours, and will continue to hear this case, while former Chief Justice Jamal led bench heard parties for some 22 hours. Makhdoom Ali Khan, counsel for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, argued for a week i.e. 17 long hours. He cited 152 cases including judicial precedent from 18 different countries’ courts. Mr Makhdoom also had some beautiful quotes from Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, Keats, George Bernard Shaw and Shelley. When he concluded his arguments Justice Khosa observed: “Thank you very much for your valuable arguments.” He was perhaps the only lawyer whose arguments were well-articulated. Even Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf praised his style of presenting arguments before the judges. Naeem Bokhari, lead counsel for PTI, consumed 14 hours to wind up his arguments in Courtroom No2. He had also led the team with his colleague Hamid Khan before Chief Justice Jamali’s bench in Courtroom No1. On conclusion of Mr Bokhari’s arguments, judges remarked: “Thank you Bokhari Sahib for assisting us.”