The PPP’s top leadership intends to exhaust all legal options available in the Constitution to fight the case of its prime minister in the Supreme Court of Pakistan which is scheduled to deliver its verdict in contempt of court case against him today. Following this decision by PPP leadership, PM Gilani will not resign on Thursday (today) even if he is sentenced to jail by the Supreme Court for not writing a letter to the Swiss authorities to open up graft cases against the president.
As per advice of the legal aides, prime minister’s lawyer will file an appeal in the SC if the PM is sentenced to jail in contempt case. In case the court upholds its earlier verdict, PM’s lawyer will then contest the point that six-month or below sentence does not lead to disqualification under Article 63-(1) (h) of the Constitution. The relevant provision of the said Article states: “A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), if: - he has been, on conviction for any offence involving moral turpitude, sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release; or …….”
When all legal remedies have been exhausted and the PM does not get any relief from the court, the legal procedure to de-seat the prime minister as MNA will start, according to which, Speaker of the National Assembly will decide within 30 days if the sentence awarded to the PM led to his disqualification as member of the National Assembly. If the Speaker is convinced about disqualification of the PM, she/he will send a disqualification reference to the Election Commission of Pakistan, which may take another 90 days to decide the case according to the law. Hence, the whole procedure to de-seat the prime minister as MNA may take four months or so and he would continue to occupy the office during the period.
The matter will not end here. After the PM has been de-seated by the Election Commission, and ceases to exist as MNA and prime minister, the President, under Article-94 of the Constitution “may ask the prime minister to hold office until his successor enters upon the office of prime minister”.
This is how the PPP has planned to take the case to its conclusion. But things may take a different course if someone seeks SC intervention through a constitutional petition to undo PPP’s strategy. The issue of writing letter to the Swiss court will arise again when a new PM assumes charge of the office.