Dar says JIT exceeded its mandate, did not conceal any fact

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ISLAMABAD, Aug 21 (APP): Federal Minister for Finance Senator,
Ishaq Dar Monday submitted a review petition in the Supreme Court that the joint investigation team (JIT) exceeded its mandate to summon him for interrogation and said he had not concealed any fact about his assets.
The finance minister dilated on a number of grounds to substantiate
his argument in the court regarding Panama Papers case decision of July 28.
He mentioned that the only allegation against him was based on so-called
confessional statement of April 20, 2000 while he was in National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’s custody.
There was no allegation in regard to possession of assets disproportionate to known source of his income, he added.
He said no direction whatsoever was given to the JIT qua the petitioner. The JIT self-evidently exceeded its mandate by opining on whether or not petitioner’s assets were disproportionate to his known sources of income and this court had regrettably erred in law.
An error floating on the surface of the record, in passing a
direction for a NAB reference against the petitioner on the basis of
a JIT report that was way beyond its mandate as per the apex court’s
order dated April 20, 2017, he said.
As evident from the petitioner’s wealth reconciliation
statement at pages 17-19 of his CMA 5043/2017 filed on July 17, 2017
the petitioner’s net assets were Rs9.11 million on June 30, 1993 and
rose to Rs831.70 million as on June 30, 2009. “It is a moot point
whether a period of 16 years can be considered a short span of
time,” he questioned.
He said it also appeared to have escaped the notice of
this court that in the next seven years (inclusive of all the years in
which the petitioner was finance minister) the petitioner’s net
assets declined to Rs544.27 million as on June 30, 2016.
Furthermore, the increase in each of the intervening years
between 1993 and 2009 was explained by annual income and
wealth tax returns available with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), NAB (1985 to 2007) and the petitioner himself, and one and all of the returns from 1985 to 2016 were made available to the JIT by July 8, 2017 before the JIT submitted its report on July 10, 2017 before the apex court.
The main increase took place in fiscal year 2008-09 because
at the end of that year the petitioner accounted for his overseas professional earning assets earned/ acquired for the period of
fiscal year (FY) 2002-03 to FY 2007-08, Dar added.
During these six years the petitioner was a non-resident for
tax purposes and as per provisions of Section 11(6) of the Income
Tax Ordinance 2001 was not required to declare income earned abroad,
he maintained.
He said at the beginning of tax year 2008-09, when the petitioner became a resident again for tax purposes the assets earned abroad (GBP6.I2m = Rs837.I5m) were merged with local assets in the wealth statement for tax year 2009.
He submitted before the apex court that the petitioner’s
objections to the JIT report as set out in detail in CMA 5043/2017,
CMA 5097/2017 and CMA 4978/2017, had not been considered at all by
the august court.
He said his returns for the tax year 2009 and previous
years stand accepted by the tax authorities. There was thus not even
the glimmer of a prima facie case that the petitioner’s assets were
disproportionate to his known sources of income and it was submitted
with respect.
Moreover, a complete record of the petitioner’s income and
wealth tax returns from 1983 to 2016 including the period FY 2002-03
to FY 2007-08 were submitted before the JIT, he added.
He said NAB had previously looked into the tax record of
both the petitioner and his wife for 22 years from 1985 to 2007 and
found no evidence of assets beyond known/declared sources of income
and closed the inquiry.
The minister questioned that how then could a reference be filed
on the spurious JIT report that the petitioner had not provided the
relevant record? It may also pertinently be added/clarified here
that for the FYs 2002-03 to 2007-08 the petitioner did declare
his global assets (foreign and local) to the Election Commission of
Pakistan as required by the Representation of People Act, 1976.