LHC full bench to hear Panamagate pleas LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah constituted a full bench on Thursday to hear identical petitions demanding an inquiry against the prime minister and several members of his family accused of concealing offshore companies.
The three-judge bench comprises Justices Shams Mahmood Mirza, Shahbaz Ali Rizvi and Mirza Viqas Rauf. They will commence proceedings next week.
The petitions had been filed before various benches of the LHC till last week when a division bench requested the chief justice to form a larger bench to hear similar petitions seeking investigation into the Panama leaks.
The petitioners include Gohar Nawaz Sindhu, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawyers’ wing, and journalist Asad Kharal.
The government, the National Accountability Bureau, the Election Commission of Pakistan, the Federal Board of Revenue and other organisations have been issued notices in this regard.
The FBR had recently issued notices to around 400 individuals named in the Panama Papers.
However, there are no reports of progress. The petitioners have accused the NAB chairman of being hand in glove with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government and avoiding a probe into the Panama leaks.
They have alleged that certain people related to the prime minister had moved public money abroad through illegal means and invested it in offshore companies.
The petitioners have also stressed the sensitive nature of the matter and demanded an investigation without delay. They claimed that the matter had badly tarnished the country’s image abroad.
They pointed out that the NAB chairman had baulked at taking action against the prime minister, his family members and others names in the Panama leaks despite receiving several applications in this regard.
NAB had suo moto powers to probe corruption, they said, but the chairman had shown no inclination towards holding an inquiry.
NAB has no excuse not to initiate an inquiry after the chief justice had refused to form a judicial commission without consensus between the government and the opposition on the terms of reference, the petitioners claimed.
They have requested the court to disqualify from office the prime minister and other politicians mentioned in the Panama Papers for holding offshore financial assets.