October 11 , 2017
Tareen must give proof: SC
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday pointed out that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's Secretary General Jehangir Tareen’s lease agreements of 18,500 acres of agricultural land were not registered, and he had failed to mention where and how much the land in question was situated.
A three-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, and comprising Justice Umer Ata Bandyal and Justice Faisal Arab, resumed hearing in the petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Hanif Abbassi. The petitioner sought disqualification of Tareen for non-disclosure of his assets and owning offshore companies.
The chief justice asked Advocate Sikandar Bashir Mohmand, the counsel for Tareen, to provide complete proof. The bench head remarked that non-provision of complete record created doubts whether the land acquired on lease was “Benami” or not.
The bench questioned the authenticity of 178 lease agreements, made by Jehangir Tareen for acquiring 18,566 acres of land from some 160 lessors. In pursuance of the court direction, the counsel for Jehangir Tareen on Tuesday produced documents pertaining to 18,566 acres of land, acquired by the respondent on lease.
During the last hearing, the court, while observing discrepancies in Tareen's assets, had sought the record of the land. The counsel submitted that his client got the land for cultivation purposes and made about 178 agreements with some 160 lessors. He contended that his client had made payments amounting to some Rs21 crore to 160 lessors through cross cheques.
The CJ, however, expressed dissatisfaction at the mode of details, given by the counsel about the lease agreements. Justice Umer Ata Bandyal remarked how it could be assumed that those who leased out the land, were actual owners of the land.
The counsel repeatedly referred to the payments made to the lessors through cross cheques, saying details pertaining to every single penny given to the lessors were mentioned in the paper book.
“Possibly we may look into the mode of payments to the lessors, but at the moment we are only concerned about the authenticity of the lease agreements,” CJ Saqib Nisar said. He told the counsel he would have to establish that those who leased out 18,566 acres of land to the respondent (Tareen) were actual owners of the land.
Sikandar Mohmand submitted that he would provide proof of the lease agreements. “To find out this, the revenue department is the major source where record is maintained, having khasra numbers, and complete record of mauzas (villages) where the land was located,” the CJ remarked.
The counsel told the court that in the affidavits of the lessors, documents regarding the land had been mentioned. “Why not the revenue record instead of affidavits,” the CJ asked the counsel.
The CJ observed that the court might take the opinion of a representative from a revenue department. "This would be very much appropriate,” the counsel replied. At least we should know that, let’s suppose, one Ghulam Ahmed, who leased out his land, was real owner of the land.
The counsel for the respondent said his client had made large payments of Rs1.9 billion and he would establish the genuineness of the business as well. Mentioning another lessor, the chief justice questioned if one Fauzia Leghari, who leased out 149 acres of land, was the real owner of the land. And if was so, she must have some legal ownership (Malkiyat).
“Or possibly, the said land was not owned by her as there is no proof of any mauza in the documents,” the CJ told the counsel. “But I have given her cross cheque as well,” Sikandar told the court. At this, the CJ told the counsel if he was relying on this, then they would give an observation in this regard.
The CJ said that the counsel would have to give documentary proof of the ownership of the lessors. Earlier, the counsel informed the court that Jehangir Tareen had been agriculturalist since 1978, adding that he had acquired 18,566 acres of land in 2010 on lease.
He submitted that his client grows sugar, mangos, and cotton on his farms. He also sets up a sugar mill in 2002. Meanwhile, at the start of the hearing, Naeem Bukhari, counsel for Imran Khan, submitted that he had filed the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) giving all the details in pursuance of the court direction.
He contended that the record pertaining to utilisation of one lakh pounds in the Niazi Services Limited (NSL) account could not be found. “Whatever was provided, I have submitted before the court,” Bukhari contended.
The CJ observed that only that record was brought into being which was in your favour, and the other remains missing. The counsel for PTI chairman again submitted that one lakh pounds, kept in the Niazi Services Limited account from 2003 to 2007, did not belong to Imran Khan but meant for litigation purposes regarding the London flat.
The counsel submitted that details had been provided to the court about the confirmation of receiving 562,000 sterling pounds by Jemima Khan through the Anglo Irish Bank He submitted that the PTI chief had declared the amount of Bani Gala property map in his assets, and the money was refunded when the map was rejected.
He further said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) could not ask Imran Khan about 2007 to 2013 as he did not hold any public office during that period. Muhammad Akram Sheikh, counsel for the petitioner Hanif Abbassi, told the court that he would submit his reply if the apex court issued a notice on miscellaneous application.
This is the first-ever case under Article 184(3) of the Constitution other than Asghar Khan’s case where documents are being filed for the last 10 months. “From all sides as well,” the CJ replied. Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing for Wednesday (today) at 11:30am.