Seeking foreign details of foreign assets against fundamental rights, petition says
Islamabad: Former president Asif Ali Zardari has filed a review petition challenging the Supreme Court’s August 29 order seeking details of his foreign assets as well as those of his assassinated wife and former premier Benazir Bhutto.
Through his counsel Farooq H Naek, the Pakistan People’s Party leader argued that such details had nothing to do with the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case and were against his fundamental rights.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar has taken up for hearing a petition filed by President of the Lawyers Foundation for Justice, Feroz Shah Gilani.
The court had asked Zardari to submit an affidavit highlighting details of foreign assets and bank accounts, including Swiss accounts, belonging to him, his slain wife, children (Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari) and other dependants.
Gilani’s petition seeks recovery of public amount allegedly wasted in the backdrop of the NRO in 2007.
He has cited Zardari, former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and former Attorney General Malik Qayyum as respondents in the case.
In his petition, Zardari argued that the August 29 court order had erroneously shifted the burden of proof to Zardari, asking him to prove his innocence.
This is something that my client has done time and again and even he has been acquitted multiple times on merit, the petition says.
Naek says the petition filed by Gilani does not fall within the purview of Article 184(3) of the Constitution and that the court is asking for the details for a period spanning more than a decade.
Even under income tax law the limitation prescribed for assessments by Section 121 of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 is five years and anything before the same is exempt from assessment, it further says.
The actual burden of proof, the review petition argues, remains on the party which has filed the case.
“The August 29 order prime facie aims to seek and gather information, which would somehow incriminate my client,” Naek argues in the petition.
“This is against the spirit of Article 13 of the Constitution which provides protection against double punishment,” the petition further says.