Panamagate fallout: PM Nawaz Sharif flabbergasted as top Constitutional Court of Pakistan disqualifies him over graft charges.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan taking a stern view on the alleged irregularities has finally debarred Nawaz Sharif from the Majlis-e-Shoora. The top court in its latest order came to this conclusion after pursuing the investigation report of the specially constituted Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which was comprised of officers of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Security & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI).

Many questions were posed by the Supreme Court: How did a company in question came into being; what led to its sale; what happened to its liabilities; where did its sale proceeds end up; whether certain respondents in view of their tender ages had the means in the early nineties to possess and purchase certain properties; whether sudden appearance of certain letters was a myth or a reality; how bearer shares crystallized into the flats; who, in fact, is the real and beneficial owner of certain companies, how did a particular company came into existence and certain other queries. The Supreme Court had earlier opined that a thorough investigation was required. The Supreme Court had thus previously constituted a JIT comprising of officers of various departments. The Court then vide order dated 05.05.2017 constituted the JIT which submitted the complete investigation report on 10.07.2017.

Petitioners submitted that the JIT had collected sufficient evidence proving that Nawaz Sharif, his dependents and benamidars owned, possessed and had acquired assets which were disproportionate to their known sources of income and that that neither Nawaz Sharif nor any of his dependents or benamidars before or during the course of investigation could account for these assets, therefore, he had become disqualified to be a Member of Parliament.

Before the Court, Nawaj Sharif unsuccessfully contended that all the material collected and finding given by the JIT did not deserve any consideration inasmuch as they were beyond the scope of investigation authorized by the order of the Court. Also the respondents were not questioned about or confronted with any of the documents tending to incriminate them and it exceeded its authority while obtaining documents from abroad.

But the Supreme Court held that a careful examination of the material so far collected revealed that a prima facie triable case under Section 9, 10 and 15 of the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance, 1999 was made out vis-à-vis various assets in question. The Supreme Court thus directed the National Accountability Bureau to file before the Accountability Court on the basis of the material collected and referred to by the Joint Investigating Team (JIT) in its report and such other material as may be available with the Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) and NAB having any nexus with the assets or which may subsequently become available including material that may come before it pursuant to the Mutual Legal Assistance requests sent by the JIT to different jurisdictions references against Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Hussain Nawaz Sharif, Hassan Nawaz Sharif  and Capt. (Retd) Muhammad Safdar relating to the irregularities.

The Constitutional Court thus declared that having failed to disclose his un-withdrawn receivables constituting assets in his nomination papers filed for the General Elections held in 2013 in terms of Section 12(2)(f) of the Representation of the People Act, 1976 (ROPA), and having furnished a false declaration under solemn affirmation, Nawaz Sharif was not honest in terms of Section 99(f) of ROPA and Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution and therefore was disqualified to be a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament). It further directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to issue a notification disqualifying him from being a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) with immediate effect and thus ceasing to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Labour Party election gains fall short of ousting the Tories

The recent election results of UK General Elections have thrown a lot many surprises. Though neither the Conservatives nor Labour won the support of a majority of voters, yet it was a big opportunity lost by Corbyn. Although many political pundits have forecasted a change of regime, yet the election results proved them wrong. Theresa May has somehow managed to continue, but with reduced numbers. In fact many Tories are now challenging her leadership and asking her to resign.

The Labour Party had huge chances of winning the elections. Their manifesto catered to the public in general which promised to create a million good quality jobs and guarantee a decent job for all. It further proposed to invest £500 billion in infrastructure and industry, backed up by a publicly-owned National Investment Bank and regional banks, to build a high skilled, high tech, low carbon economy. Further investment in the high speed broadband, energy, transport and homes to allow good businesses to thrive, and support a new generation of co-operative enterprises. It further promised to build a million new homes in five years, with at least half a million council homes. To provide relief to tenants it promised to introducing rent controls, secure tenancies and a charter of private tenants’ rights, and increase access to affordable home ownership. In industrial law, it promised robust employment rights from day one in a job, end exploitative zero hours contracts, and create new sectoral collective bargaining rights and stronger Trade Unions. In the health sector, it promised to end health service privatisation and bring services into a secure, publicly-provided NHS and integrate the NHS and social care for older and disabled people, funding dignity across the board, and ensure parity for mental health services.

In the education sphere, a new National Education Service, open to all throughout their lives with a universal childcare to give all children a good start in life, allowing greater sharing of caring responsibilities and removing barriers to women participating in the labour market was promised. To ‘insource’ public and local council services, increase access to leisure, arts and sports across the country, and expand publicly controlled bus network along with government control of Railways. To shrink the gap between the rich and the poor, a progressive tax system was to be introduced.

Whereas the Conservatives promised to secure the best deals from Brexit to control the laws, borders and money and also to form new trade deals for UKs goods and services with different states. Affordable housing, new rights and protections for workers, create more and better-paid jobs, tackling the cost of living by capping rip-off energy tariffs and keeping taxes low have been promised. There would be increasing school funding every year which would provide real technical education for young people. There will be increase in the NHS budget every year to ensure every family gets proper medical care. Though the election results have dealt a brutal blow to Theresa May yet the Labour Party’s inability to form a majority has raised many questions on Corbyn’s ability to head the party.

International Criminal Court says no to suspension of reparations process in Jean-Pierre Bemba Case

Convicted Congolese warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo received a huge setback recently when the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court on May 5, 2017 rejected his appeal which urged the Court not to continue with reparation proceedings till his pending appeal was decided.  In the case of the Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, decision on the defence’s request to suspend the reparations proceedings, the Court observed that Article 75 of the Rome Statute gives the Chamber the power to make a reparations order against any convicted person.

Post the conviction and the order on sentence, in July 2016 the Chamber made an order requesting submissions relevant to reparations and in October 2016 the Prosecution, Defence, Legal Representative of Victims (LRV), Office of Public Counsel for Victims (OPCV), Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) and the Registry filed their observations on reparations. Finally in February 2017, the Chamber issued an order inviting submissions on experts to assist the Chamber in its determinations on reparations.

The defence team of Bemba Gombo urged the Chamber to refrain from instructing expert witnesses and to suspend the reparations process at the latest after the selection of any expert(s) and the finalisation of any letter of instruction as it argued that it was inconsistent with the rights of the accused as it operated as an effective presumption of guilt and also placed a heavy burden on the defence’s resources. It argued that even in the Katanga case, the reparation proceedings started only after the withdrawal of the appeals when the LRVs asked the Chamber to set a schedule for filing observations on the principles for reparations in August 2014, two months after the parties had withdrawn their appeal.

It further argued that as reparation orders were intrinsically linked to the individual whose criminal responsibility was established in a conviction and whose culpability for these criminal acts was determined in a sentence and that an accused should not have to remedy harms that are not the result of the crimes for which he was convicted, continuing with the reparations process whilst there was an extant live appeal against conviction was inappropriate.

But the Chamber refused holding that the Appeals Chamber in Prosecutor v Lubanga (Judgment on the appeals against the “Decision establishing the principles and procedures to be applied to reparations”) had identified five constitutive elements, which, at a minimum, must be contained in an order for reparations: 1) it must be directed against the convicted person; 2) it must establish and inform the convicted person of his or her liability with respect to the reparations awarded in the order; 3) it must specify, and provide reasons for, the type of reparations ordered, either collective, individual or both; 4) it must define the harm caused to direct and indirect victims as a result of the crimes for which the person was convicted, as well as identify the modalities of reparations that the Trial Chamber considers appropriate based on the circumstances of the specific case before it; and 5) it must identify the victims eligible to benefit from the awards for reparations or set out the criteria of eligibility based on the link between the harm suffered by the victims and the crimes for which the person was convicted. For addressing these elements the Chamber needed to take a number of preparatory steps. Also the legal texts of the Court contemplated that reparation proceedings may commence in parallel to a pending appeal. Referring to the established practice that preparatory steps to facilitate and expedite the reparations proceedings are launched following a conviction, it held that the issuance of a reparations order is not prejudicial to the rights of the convicted person irrespective of whether there is an appeal against the conviction decision.

The Chamber further observed that in the present proceedings reparations were only at a preliminary stage. Finally Article 64(3)(a) of the Rome Statute gave the Trial Chamber the power to suspend the proceedings if this was necessary to facilitate the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings. But suspending the reparations case would in fact be fatal to the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings.  It held that the suspension of all reparations proceedings until after the Appeals Chamber had rendered its decision would substantially impact the victims’ interests to access reparations in a timely manner. Thus the Court disallowed the relief sought by Bemba Gombo.

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