The court had desired the president to quit either the presidency or the office of the PPP co-chairperson about a year ago. The deadline came to an end on May 12, without the president taking any decision in the light of the court verdict. This prompted one Munir Ahmed to move a contempt petition against the president.
The bench, headed by LHC Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, on Wednesday issued a fresh notice to the president through his principal secretary seeking his reply till September 14. The court also allowed the federal government to be a party in the petition.
Justices Nasir Saeed Sheikh, Sheikh Najamul Hasan and Ijazul Ahsan and Mansoor Ali Shah are other members of the bench. However, Justice Shah didn’t attend the Wednesday’s proceedings because he was out of the country.
Advocates Muhammad Azhar Siddqure and AK Dogar represented the petitioner. As the proceedings started, Additional Attorney General Abdul Haye Gillani informed the bench that Attorney General Irfan Qadir wanted to assist the court in this case, but he couldn’t appear as the Supreme Court had called him at Quetta Registry in the missing persons’ case. He requested the bench to adjourn the hearing.
Senior Lawyer Wasim Sajjad also appeared and informed the bench that he would represent the federal government. Wasim Sajjad pointed out that federation was a rightful party in the dual-office case. He requested the bench to grant permission to the federation to become party.
The petitioner’s counsels opposed the request. However, the chief justice overruled the objections and observed that federation’s view point was necessary in this case. Moreover, President Zardari’s stance should also be heard in the case, the he added.
Azhar Siddique argued the court should summon President Zardari. Being the president, Zardari was respectable, but his personal appearance in the case was a legal requirement, he argued. The bench said the court also gave respect to the designation of the president. Wasim Sajjad said the government also respected the judiciary. “Yes, the government respects the judiciary during court proceedings, but its representatives ridicule the courts outside,” Siddque cut in.
At this, the court turned down the request to summon President Zardari in person. “The respondent president is being permitted to file his reply through his counsel. At this stage the appearance of respondent isn’t necessary because no objection can be raised even on court proceedings without the representation by a counsel,” the bench observed.
On September 14, the full bench will hear objections, if any, filed by the federation and president.