ISLAMABAD, May 18: A lawyer has filed a reference with National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza requesting her to start disqualification proceedings against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for being convicted by the Supreme Court in a contempt case.
The speaker is said to be quite worried about the development and has started consultations with legal experts.
“Mr Gilani was convicted by the Supreme Court on April 26 and I filed the reference next day on April 27 under article 63-2 of the Constitution,” Maulvi Iqbal Haider said, adding: “In my reference I have requested the speaker that after conviction by the apex court the prime minister has no authority to exercise his powers by any means.”
The lawyer said he had sent the reference through a courier service and it had been received by the NA Secretariat. “I have also received an acknowledgement from the speaker’s office,” he added.
When contacted, NA Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi said he had no knowledge about such a reference, but added that anyone could file it. “Yes, anyone outside the parliament can file the reference.”
NA Secretary Karamat Hussain Niazi endorsed the statement by the deputy speaker.
Article 63-2 of the Constitution, which does not explain whether or not anyone outside the parliament could file the reference, states: “If any question arises whether a member of the Majlis-i-Shoora (Parliament) has become disqualified from being a member, the speaker or, as the case may be, the chairman shall, unless he decides that no such question has arisen, refer the question to the Election Commission within 30 days and if he fails to do so within the aforesaid period it shall be deemed to have been referred to the Election Commission.”
Prime Minister Gilani was convicted for not writing a letter to the Swiss authorities for reopening money laundering cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. But he has decided to file an appeal against the apex court’s decision because he is of the opinion that under the Constitution, the president enjoyed immunity and no case could be tried against him in any court.
A senior official of the NA who had gone through the reference said the speaker had held a meeting on Friday to discuss the issue.
Speaker Dr Mirza recently met legal experts, including Law Minister Farooq Naek and former Senate chairman Waseem Sajjad, to seek legal opinion about her role after the filing of the reference.
When contacted, Waseem Sajjad said there was no compulsion that only a parliamentarian could file a reference. “Anyone from outside the parliament can do it.”