Supreme Court rules in Sheikh Rashid’s favour in misdeclaration of assets case
The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday ruled in Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Ahmed Rashid’s favour in the misdeclaration of assets case against him.
A three-member bench of the apex court, comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, rejected the election appeal of Malik Shakeel Awan who had accused Rashid of misdeclaring his assets in the nomination forms that he had submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the general elections in 2013.
The SC bench ruled 2-1 in Rashid’s favour, with Justice Isa writing the dissenting note and recommending that the case be sent to a full court for further hearings.
The apex court had closed the hearing on the election dispute on March 20 after listening to both sides.
Advocate Sheikh Ilyas, who represented Mr Awan in the case, had argued during the hearing that Sheikh Rashid was involved in the concealment of assets as he had shown rent from properties as his source of income and Rs2.2 million as profit from bank accounts when his bank statement reflected Rs5.3m from which Rs2.2m profit seemed not plausible.
Besides, Mr Rashid mentioned 983-kanal agricultural land in the nomination papers for the 2013 general elections while he actually owned 1,081-kanal agricultural land, the counsel had said.
Similarly, he added, Rashid showed the purchase of one-kanal land in the Bahria Gold City for over Rs10m when the booking price of the land was over Rs48m, whereas the current market price of the same land was around Rs60m.
The lawyer contended that the Representation of Peoples Act (RoPA) 1976 obligated all intending candidates to disclose their entire assets. The Panamagate verdict was the latest SC judgement over the concealment of assets in which Sheikh Rashid also was one of the petitioners.
At the hearing of the case on March 20, one of the members of the SC bench, Justice Isa, had observed that the concept of strict liability had been settled in the Panama Papers case judgement. The judge had wondered if the principles and guidelines laid down in the verdict would also apply to other cases, including that of Mr Rashid.
Justice Isa had also observed that if the rule of strict liability was to be followed, Rashid would also stand disqualified, citing that the Panama Papers case judgement neither discussed nor had any mention of accepting mistake or error.
Awan, who had lost the 2013 general elections to Rashid, had accused him of misdeclaring his assets in the nomination forms that he had submitted to the ECP from constituency NA-55. Therefore, he had added, Rashid should be disqualified.
While talking to Dawn, Sheikh Rashid had said: “I will accept whatever the Supreme Court decides about me.” However, he added, the election plea against him had already become infructous as the assembly had completed its five-year term for which Mr Awan had sought to de-seat him.
As the deadline for filing of nomination papers for the upcoming general elections had expired on Monday, the returning officers will now remain busy in scrutinising the forms to accept or reject the nominations till June 19.
Sheikh Rashid recently filed his nomination papers for NA-60 and NA-62.