ISLAMABAD - Reacting to the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama papers case, top legal minds of the country have a consensus to say that process of ‘investigation’ of the Sharif family has started.

Even some of them are of the opinion that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has lost his moral authority to rule the country after this verdict and now he should step down.

Talking to The Nation, President of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Rasheed A Rizvi termed the verdict a moral victory of the petitioners, saying although two judges of the bench has clearly called for the disqualification of Premier Nawaz, yet majority of judges has also rejected the defence of the respondents.

Avoiding to call the SC’s decision a final judgement, he said final verdict would be subjected to the report of Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which would probe the allegations of financial irregularities and money laundering levelled against the Sharif family.

Rashid A Rizvi termed the decision more damaging to Nawaz Sharif, saying the address of the Premier in the National Assembly was in fact an address to the nation and if his speech is doubtful then Nawaz Sharif has no moral authority to continue with his position. Therefore, he said that PM Nawaz Sharif should step down.

Barrister Ali Zafar said that he had already hinted this that under Qanoon-e-Shihadat, the Supreme Court would have to constitute a commission in this matter and now the bench has ordered to form a JIT to probe this matter.

He added that all the five judges have unanimously declared that the defence lawyers have committed “deliberate concealment” and it is itself a major crime to hide facts from the court.

He said the bench has directed to constitute JIT keeping in view the principle of fair trial.

However, he said, the Supreme Court should itself constitute the JIT and some non-governmental members should also be made part of it to make the commission more powerful.

He also termed the verdict an interim decision, saying final decision is pending. However, he said, in some matters, the court has given a final verdict. In this regard, he mentioned, the court has declared the documents, including the letter of Qatari prince submitted by the respondents, as fake and declared they had concealed the facts.

Barrister Farogh Nasim also termed the verdict an interim one. However, he said, it has made the work of JIT easier.

He maintained the process of ‘investigation’ of the Sharif brothers has started and at the moment, it is neither a matter of joy nor sorrow. “All of us should wait for the final verdict in this matter,” he added.

Senior lawyer of Supreme Court Abid Hussain Minto said that in the presence of so many evidences, it was not possible for the bench to decide the matter and the bench should have constituted the JIT or commission much earlier. He was of the view that this decision is not in favour of any party.

He continued that it is not the final verdict but the process of investigation ‘investigation’ has started and the final verdict will be announced after the completion of probe into the allegations of financial irregularities and money laundering levelled against the Sharif family.

Former president of SCBA Kamran Mutaza also termed it an interim order, adding the final verdict will come after the completion of investigations by the JIT. He said that in his opinion, this case was mishandled by the PM and his legal team. He said that they weakened their position by submitting Qatari letter and some other things.

President Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) Arif Chaudhary Advocate said Prime Minsiter has lost moral authority after this judgment. “Dissenting note by the two judges of the Supreme Court has made it a strong case for the opposition to demand resignation of the PM to ensure fair, free and transparent investigations into the Panama scam,” he remarked.

He added that another historical aspect of the judgement is the split decision of this matter as it has been observed second time in the history of the nation. “First, it was seen in the verdict of former prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s case and second time, it has happened in this Panama case,” he maintained.

He said the decision has disappointed the nation but it has also enhanced credibility and respect of the dissenting judges who have shown their courage to stand up by the nation against all odds to curb nepotism and corruption.

He also expressed his opinion that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should step down till completion of investigations because his subordinates will carry out investigations against him.