ISLAMABAD: Veteran journalist and anchorperson Sami Ibrahim said on Tuesday that he plans to move an application in Islamabad High Court (IHC), urging it to separately hear the asset concealment case filed against Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and not attach it with the alleged graft case of former president Asif Ali Zardari.
Sami Ibrahim filed a ‘quo warranto’ application in the IHC on September 11, 2019, seeking Fawad Chaudhry’s disqualification from the Parliament and removal from the public office since there was a discrepancy in his declaration of wealth and asset statements submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Ibrahim said that his investigations show that Chaudhry, who is a senior leader of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), concealed assets worth millions of rupees from the ECP and, therefore, he should be disqualified under Article 62(1) (f) of the Constitution from the National Assembly.
Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution requires a member of the Parliament to be ‘sadiq and ameen’ – truthful and trustworthy – a yardstick Fawad Chaudhry fails to meet because of his contradictory and ‘false’’ declarations submitted to the ECP and concealment of assets, Ibrahim told Bol News.
According to the petition, respondent Fawad Chauhdry “with mala-fide intention and ulterior motives, concealed his assets, their cost and “provided wrong and false statement of his own and (of his) spouses” in Form-B (statement of assets and liabilities) submitted along with his nomination papers. The petitioner urged that a criminal case be initiated against the federal minister and all his privileges withdrawn.
After at least five hearings, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah clubbed Sami Ibrahim’s application with that of a corruption case against former president Asif Ali Zardari and also sought input from Chairman Senate and Speaker National Assembly regarding such a case.
In its order passed on March 1, 2021, the IHC had said that it would be appropriate to seek opinions from the Speaker National Assembly and Chairman Senate regarding available parliamentary forums for the accountability of the notified elected representative. “If not, then whether such a forum can be established… involving the judicial branch in such matters does not appear to be in public interest because political controversies affect the confidence of the people,” the order said.
But Ibrahim said he plans to request IHC to review its decision as Article 199 of the Constitution allows High Courts to take up “quo warranto” writs which means a legal action requiring a person to show by what warrant an office or franchise is held, claimed, or exercised.
“In my review application I will argue that the High Court remains empowered to take up quo warranto cases and there is no need to seek any input from the Speaker National Assembly or the Senate Chairman,” he said. “By all means, this case falls under the jurisdiction of the IHC,” he said.
The journalist said that he had discussed the case with several top lawyers who say that under Article 199 and Article 184 (3) of the Constitution, the High Courts and the Supreme Court are empowered to take up such cases.
Ibrahim said that he had solid evidence, including official documents obtained from the deputy commissioner offices, that Fawad Chaudhry concealed the wealth, ownership of lands and properties owned by his two wives and his own and did not declare them to the ECP.
According to senior lawyers in the country, PTI leader Jahangir Tareen and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif both were disqualified from holding any public office on similar grounds.
“It is unfortunate that a person, accused of lying and concealing his assets, is being allowed to represent people of Jehlum…I wonder if there were separate laws – one for the PML-N and the other for PTI,” asked Ibrahim.
“Nawaz Sharif was disqualified for concealing facts, but in the case of Fawad Chaudhry, everything has been put on halt to seek the opinion of the speaker National Assembly and Chairman Senate,” he pointed out.
The journalist insisted that Fawad Chaudhry remains a beneficiary of this pendency. “Honourable Chief Justice of the IHC had said during a hearing that the court would decide this matter before the next hearing, but then surprisingly my petition was clubbed with that of Mr. Zardari’s case whereas facts of both these cases were different,” he lamented and said this was yet another example of justice delayed is justice denied.
The most interesting aspect of the petition is that Fawad Chaudhry has been using three different names in various official documents, which the petitioner said revealed his “ulterior motives.”
“In his Computerized National Identity Card and Passport, the PTI minister got his name written as Fawad Ahmad Naseem Ahmad while in his nomination papers he wrote his name as Chaudhry Fawad Husain. In Revenue Record, his name appears as Fawad Fareed Awais s/o Naseem Husain,” said Sami.
According to the petition, the following immovable properties have been concealed by Fawad Chaudhry.
- Agriculture land share 2155/13891(12 Kanal 5 Marla) of one of his two situated in Khewat No. 2, and share 287/12003 (one Kanal and 12 Marla) in Khewat No.ll of Mauza Chak No. 119/EB, Tehsil Arifwala, district Pakpatan.
- Property/Share in House No. 863 Block-W, DHA, Lahore, where his first wife resides. This address is appearing on the Income Tax Returns of Fawad submitted with the Nomination Papers for the tax years 2015 to 2017.
- Agriculture land in Mauza Ladhar Tehsil Dina, Jehlum, as per following details
- Khewat No. 32, share 969/276080, status – owner,
- Khewat No. 24, share 816/473008, status – owner occupant,
- Khewat No. 29, share 1088/359040, status – owner occupant,
- Khewat No. 29, share 2720/359040, status – owner
- Khewat No. 28, share 142684/14370048, status -the share of Shamlat,
- Khewat No. 41, share 544/52224, status – owner occupant,
- Khewat No. 44, share 2720/97376, status – owner occupant,
- Khewat No. 31, share 272/47600, status – owner,
- Khewat No. 27, share 1885/421056, status -the share of Shamlat,
- Khewat No. 27, share 2176/421056, status – owner,
- Khewat No.30, share 272/31008, status – owner – Rehn,
- Khewat No. 70, share 32/12512, status – owner occupant,
- Khewat No. 33; share 119/34000, status owner
- Agriculture land in the minister’s wife’s name in Mauza Ladhar, Tehsil Dina, Jhelum, as per the following details.
- Khewat No. 32, share 3633/276080 & 19/16240, status – owner,
- Khewat No. 33; share 119/34000, status – owner
- Khewat No. 29, share 1360/359040 & 17/3960, status – owner occupant
- Khewat No. 29, share 9792/359040 & 13/3960, status – owner
- Khewat No. 28, share 174720/4790016, status – the share of Shamlat
- Khewat No. 41, share 1904/52224 & 1/288, status – owner occupant
- Khewat No. 44, share 10608/97376 & 2/179, status – owner occupant
- Khewat No. 31, share 1360/47600 & 1/525, status – owner
- Khewat No. 27, share 6914/421056 &1/516, status – owner
- Khewat No. 27, share 8432/421056, status – owner
- Khewat No.30, share 816/31008 & 1/342, status – owner – Rehn
- Khewat No. 57, share 1224/37264 & 1/411, status – Rehn
- Khewat No.70, share 136/12512, status – owner – occupant
- Khewat No. 33, share 447/34000 &7/6000, status – owner
- Fawad has shown one Kanal plot in Islamabad worth Rs.4.0 million in the irrelevant column, but the same amount is not reflected in his Income Tax returns for the years 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17, which show that payment was made from black money.
- The minister has shown that he owns only one car in his nomination papers whereas, he and his family are using a fleet of vehicles at Lahore, Ladhar, and Islamabad.
- According to the petition, Fawad ‘fraudulently concealed’ details of his business and provided incomplete/false information in the nomination papers. He has shown that he gave more than Rs.10 million in loans to the convenience store of his wife instead of disclosing business. Furthermore, the respondent has also given a loan to the tune of Rs. 4.0 million to his uncle, but his Tax Returns do not reflect huge savings.
- His nomination papers show remittances to the tune of Rs. 95,670/- but the investment made in the name of his wife in Convenience Store (Pvt) Ltd has been shown Rs. 1,250,000/, though such a store is not a Private Limited Company in the SECP’s records. Therefore, it is astonishing that from the remittance worth Rs.95,670/, he made the investment to the tune of Rs.1,250,000/- — almost 14 times above the amount received.
- He has shown an unsecured loan to his maternal uncle to the tune of Rs.14.5 million, but the same is not appearing in the Income-tax Returns, and sources of such a huge amount are also unknown.
- Fawad resides with his second wife in an apartment at Centaurus Mall, Blue Area, Islamabad on rent ranging from Rs. 250,000 to 300,000 per month, but the same expenditure has not been mentioned in the Income Tax returns.
- Fawad has failed to disclose 70 tola gold of his second wife as well as description of the jewelry she owns.
12. He ‘dishonestly concealed’ information regarding the cash in hand and his bank accounts,” the petitioner has mentioned.