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Gilani finally in contempt bracket
 
 
 

ISLAMABAD - Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch appeal from besieged Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Friday, ordering him to appear before the court on Monday to face indictment for contempt.“The appeal is dismissed,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry pronounced, reading the eight-member bench’s decision, which upheld a February 2 order by a seven-member bench of the apex court for Gilani to appear for the framing of contempt charges. The contempt case was initiated against PM Gilani over his government’s two-year refusal to write to Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari and others.If convicted, Gilani faces up to six months in jail and being disqualified from office in a case that many observers say will likely build pressure on the government to force early elections within months. On Thursday, the chief justice said the court would only drop the summons if the prime minister obeyed its order of writing to the Swiss. On Friday, he again said he wanted a clear answer on whether the prime minister would write the letter, telling his lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan: “We are ready to give you 10 minutes to talk to the prime minister on the phone and let us know.”But Aitzaz replied: “I have no mandate to do that.” Speaking to reporters outside the court, the lawyer confirmed Gilani would now appear in court on Monday.If Gilani is removed, it does not necessarily mean the government will fall as the ruling coalition has the numbers in parliament to elect a replacement. But the case, which has raised tension between the PPP-led government and the Supreme Court, could drag on and paralyse decision-making.“In accordance with the provision of 17(3) of the Contempt Ordinance 2003 following the settled principle of criminal justice no interference is called for and thus the appeal is dismissed,” read the Friday’s decision of the bench, which was hearing the Intra-Court Appeal (ICA) of Gilani and was being headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry himself.During the proceeding the Chief Justice said that no one wanted unrest in the country and they were exercising restraint. He, however, said that “the court can go to any extent to implement its verdict”. The CJ asked Aitzaz to inform the prime minister “this is not in the interest of the country to defy the court order”. Justice Saqib Nisar said: “Today we were expecting some good news that the PM would write letter to the Swiss.” He said they do not want that PM is convicted.Aitzaz Ahsan had filed an appeal under section 19 of the Contempt of Court (CoC) Ordinance 2003 of behalf of Prime Minister Gilani against the February 2 order. A show-cause notice was issued to Gilani on January 16, 2012 for not implementing the apex court judgment on National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) dated December 16, 2009. But no reply was filed by the PM. Therefore the court summoned Gilani, who appeared before the seven-member bench being headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk and stated that compliance of para 178 of the NRO judgment was not presently possible as the president has immunity under article 248 of the constitution. On February 2, 2012 after hearing the arguments of Aitzaz Ahsan the bench decided to frame charges against the PM on February 13, 2012, asking Gilani to appear before the court again.Aitzaz Ahsan argued the case for issuing contempt of court for two days in the preliminary hearing. He then pleaded the case in the ICA for almost nine hours, but the court dismissed the appeal.In the Sindh High Court Bar Association case the SC had declared illegal and void ab initio the November 3, 2007 action of former President Pervez Musharraf and his granting of permanency to certain Ordinances, including the NRO. However, it directed the government to place these ordinances before the parliament. But the parliament did not stamp legitimacy to the NRO.Subsequently, in the Dr Mobashir Hassan’s case (PLD 2010 SC 265), the provisions of the NRO 2007 were declared to be void ab initio, being ultra vires and violative of the constitution, and to be deemed to be non est from its inception. The directions were issued to revive all the previous/pending proceedings within and outside the country.After the promulgation of the NRO, 2007, Malik Muhammad Qayyum, ex-attorney general communicated/addressed letters to various foreign fora/authorities/courts for withdrawing the requests, which were earlier made by the government of Pakistan for mutual legal assistance, surrendering the status of civil party, abandoning the claims to the allegedly laundered moneys lying in foreign countries, including Switzerland, which were also declared to be unauthorised and illegal communications and consequently of no legal effect.The court declared the initial requests for mutual legal assistance for securing the status of civil party and claims launched to the allegedly laundered moneys lying in foreign countries, including Switzerland were declared never to have been withdrawn; therefore, the federal government and other concerned authorities were ordered to take up immediate steps to seek revival of the said requests, claims and status.During the proceedings of Dr Mobashir and others cases, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was asked to furnish the details of the NRO beneficiaries. The NAB chairman informed the court that there were two categories of beneficiaries, namely, the holders of public office whose cases were pending inside and outside Pakistan in which $60 million were involved for which a request for mutual legal assistance and civil party to proceedings had been made by the federal government.As far as the category of beneficiaries inside Pakistan was concerned, the court, in exercise of powers under article 187 read with article 190 directed the NAB and other executive authorities to supply requisite information. In the wake of this judgment, it was incumbent upon the federal government to implement the NRO judgment, particularly with reference to revival of the cases outside the country.On different occasions the federal government and the prime minister, being the chief executive of the country, were asked to implement the order, but the same was not done. Therefore, after the dismissal of a review petition, the court constituted a five-member bench to ensure the implementation of the order, particularly the revival of proceedings outside the country by writing a letter.During the proceeding of the cases, Aitzaz again requested to the bench to give him time from 10 to 15 days to submit his reply. He said that PCO judges were given four months. Justice Jawwad S Khawaja stated that the nature of the PCO judges was totally different from this case.Throughout the hearing, Aitzaz cited various judgments from Pakistan and other countries to plead his case pertaining to contempt of court charges. However, the chief justice dismissed his arguments by saying that the precedents he mentioned were of civil nature whereas the current case was of criminal nature.

 
 
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