LAHORE – Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, has said that the Speaker of National Assembly has authority under the Constitution not to forward the reference against PM Gilani to the Election Commission because the sentence given to him is unlawful.

‘Speaker Fehmida Mirza enjoys the authority to forward or not the reference to Election Commission regarding the disqualification of PM after conviction by the Supreme Court in contempt case’, Aitzaz said while referring to Article 63(2) and revealing many options including appeal against the apex court verdict.

Aitzaz expressed these views while talking to reporters at the LHC premises here on Tuesday.

He said that Prime Minister’s sentence was against the law.

The Premier could not have been sentenced in the absence of a detailed verdict, he said. He said short orders were not issued in criminal cases.

Aitzaz said his party and government had many options including appeal against the decision of the apex court in contempt of court case.

However, he said no final decision regarding filing of appeal had been taken so far.

He was of the opinion that PM was sentenced in violation of Article 10-A of the Constitution.

‘My client PM Gilani has a number of options to choose from, including one of filing an appeal challenging the verdict’, he stated. However, he suggested that the judges who convicted his client should not hear the proposed appeal. He reiterated that President Asif Ali Zardari enjoyed immunity from prosecution in Pakistan and abroad. He urged that it was the duty of all Pakistani citizens to abide by the laws and the Constitution of the country.

Talking about the role of Speaker National Assembly in the process of a possible disqualification of PM, Aitzaz said that the Speaker was given the authority by the Constitution and not the superior judiciary.

It was up to the Speaker’s discretion whether or not to send a reference in this case, he added.

Aitzaz said that he or the Prime Minister had never given any indication of not accepting the court’s order.

In fact, Gilani’s quietly acceptance of his imprisonment sentence till the rising of the court is proof of that, Aitzaz said, adding, that if the sentence had been longer, the Prime Minister would have still complied with it.

He said, however, that it was not possible to give a sentence of imprisonment without giving a reason for it and and that too by the bench that itself was the prosecutor.

We have these objections with the verdict and many more, both with the short order and the detailed verdict, he concluded while defending his objections to the judgement.