ISLAMABAD - Former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Saturday filed a review petition against the Supreme Court ruling in the contempt case, praying his disqualification should be reviewed in the interest of justice and the conviction be set aside.
In January, Gilani sent his review petition to the apex court through mail but the Registrar Office returned it while endorsing the objections of Institution Branch, which said the plea was incomplete and not filed within the prescribed period. According to SC rules, only Aitizaz Ahsan, who defended Gilani in contempt case, could file a review petition but the former PM filed it in his personal capacity.
Aitzaz Ahsan on Saturday submitted the review petition in person wherein the former PM maintained that not writing Swiss letter was an official act as Prime Minister, after a decision of cabinet and taking requisite legal advice by the competent legal advisers. He maintained that his decision was based on his bonafide belief and opinion on the issue and was never meant to ridicule the court or cause any hindrance in administration of justice.
Gilani said that he has always been respectful to the court and could not imagine defying the court order. “Being the prime minister I was under oath to defend and protect the constitution and, according to my understanding, President [Asif Ali Zardari] enjoyed immunity from prosecution.” He said his opinion whether right or wrong was not a criminal act and therefore it should not have resulted in conviction and consequent disqualification from being a member of the parliament.
The ex-PM stated that the incumbent Premier [Raja Pervaiz Ashraf] took a similar stance before the court, though there was some shift in the official policy of the PM and the government. The incumbent PM decided to write the letter to Swiss authorities but the court was gracious enough to permit the new prime minister to add in the letter that the letter will be without prejudice to the presidential claim regarding immunity under Article 248 of the constitution.
The petitioner has been disqualified for five years for an act which was not personal but the wrong and the stigma suffered by the petitioner was personal and likely to ruin his political career, the petition read. He and his family had never in the past received even a notice of contempt and never think of committing contempt of apex court, it added.
Speaking to media persons in the court premises, the former premier said that not writing a letter to Swiss authorities at that time was the party’s collective decision. Reiterating his earlier stance on presidential immunity, Gilani said he still believed that the head of state enjoyed immunity from criminal prosecution while in office. The PPP leader, defending his counsel, said Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan had done his duties in a responsible manner.