Published On:Saturday, 23 April 2016
Posted by Chaudhry

Govt unveils ToRs of inquiry commission

Govt unveils ToRs of  inquiry commission

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Law and Justice has written a letter to the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) to form a judicial commission for probing the allegations of holding offshore companies by the Pakistani citizens as revealed in Panama Papers, and writing off the bank loans.
The Ministry of Law and Justice has issued a notification in this regard on Friday night in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act, 1956 (VI of 1956) (the Act). The notification also mentioned that the commission of inquiry shall have the following Terms of Reference (TORs): to examine information relating to the involvement of Pakistani citizens, persons of Pakistan origin and legal entities in offshore companies in Panama or in any other country. The committee would also look into the involvement of former and present holders of public office in writing off their own bank loans or those of their immediate family members through political influence.
The enquiry commission will also probe the matters regarding transfer of funds from Pakistan, which have originated from corruption, commissions or kickbacks. The commission would also determine whether, in any case referred to in (1) (a) and (b) above, any law for the time being in force in Pakistan has been infringed.
In case the answer to above factors is affirmative, to determine responsibility for such infringement and to make such recommendations as may be deemed appropriate. The commission shall, in addition to the powers under section 4 of the act, have all the additional powers under section 5 ibid.
The notification mentioned that whereas it has been reported in the national media, on the basis of information published in the foreign press and broadcast on electronic media, that certain documents from a law firm in Panama (the “Panama Papers”) and other sources indicate involvement of Pakistani citizens, persons of Pakistan origin and legal entities in offshore companies.
The notification further added that whereas reports have also appeared in the national media regarding involvement of holders of public office in writing off bank loans through political influence and transfer from Pakistan of funds which have originated from corruption, commissions or kickbacks.
It also said that whereas the federal government deems it expedient in the public interest to appoint a commission of inquiry to inquire into the aforesaid matters.
The commission shall have powers under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, for summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person, including a tax expert or accountant, and examining him on oath.
The commission can also ask any discovery and production of any documents, receiving evidence on affidavits, issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses on documents and requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office. The commission shall have the powers to require any person, subject to any privilege which may be claimed by that person under any law for the time being in force, to furnish information on such point or matters as, in the opinion of the commission, may be useful for, or relevant to, the subject matter of the inquiry.
Any officer not below the rank of a gazetted officer, specially authorised in this behalf by the president of the commission may enter any building or place where the commission has reason to believe that any books of account or other documents relating to the subject matter of the inquiry may be found, and may seize any such books of account or documents or take extracts or copies there from subject to the provisions of section 102 and section 103 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, insofar as they may be applicable. Any proceeding before the commission shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of sections 193 and 228 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860.
The commission shall be assisted by all the authorities concerned of the federal and provincial governments. The commission shall start the inquiry at a place and on a date to be fixed by it and shall submit its report to the federal government in accordance with its terms of reference.The Cabinet Division shall provide secretarial assistance to the commission.

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