ISLAMABAD, May 25: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his close legal and political advisers, who spent the whole day on Friday discussing the pros and cons of challenging the Supreme Court’s decision convicting the prime minister in the contempt case, decided late in the night not to file the appeal.
According to reliable sources, the advisers were of the opinion that the advantage gained from the favourable ruling of the National Assembly Speaker should not be put to risk by going to the Supreme Court with the appeal because the court may decide to remove what has been described as ‘lacunas and ambiguity’ in the shorter order and detailed judgment in the contempt case.
An official privy to the discussion told Dawn that Mr Gilani had met a number of leading lawyers at his residence to seek their opinion on the issue. His lawyer Senator Aitzaz Ahsan had called on him on Thursday and, according to a source, the two spent several hours together.
The 30-day limit of filing an appeal against the seven-member bench will be over on Saturday (today) because the court had issued its short order on April 26. However, Mr Ahsan contends that the time starts after the release of detailed judgment on May 8.
Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the appeal was ready and now it was up to the leadership to decide.
Mr Kaira defended the speaker’s ruling in favour of Mr Gilani and said it couldn’t be challenged in any court of law.
“Being the custodian of a sovereign house which represents the will of the people, the speaker’s ruling on the issue of disqualification of an MNA cannot be challenged anywhere,” Mr Kaira said.
The speaker decided against sending Gilani’s reference to the Election Commission, arguing no such question had arisen following his conviction by the Supreme Court in the contempt case.
But Salman Akram Raja and Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood said that only the proceedings of parliament couldn’t be challenged in court. In this case, they said, it was the decision of the speaker’s office, not of the house.
Mr Raja said the government should go into appeal because the judgment of the seven-member bench carried many lacunas which made a solid ground for appeal.
Justice Tariq said the prime minister would commit a serious blunder by not going into appeal, adding that “in the event of not appealing, his conviction would attain finality”.
In such a situation, somebody would challenge the speaker’s decision which she has made in favour of Mr Gilani and there are chances that the court would disagree with her argument.
He said in that event the prime minister would face a serious crisis.
“Thus, as a student of law, I would strongly recommend to the government to go into appeal,” said Justice Tariq. If the prime minister and his legal team decide otherwise, definitely the government will have political considerations.
Prime Minister’s Adviser on Political Affairs Fawad Chaudhry believes that after the speaker’s ruling, the issue of the prime minister’s disqualification has been settled once for all.
Mr Chaudhry quoted Article 69 (2) of the Constitution which says, “No officer or member of parliament (Majlis-i-Shoora) in whom powers are vested by or under the Constitution for regulating procedure or the conduct of business, or for maintaining order in (Majlis-i-Shoora) (Parliament)], shall be subject to the jurisdiction of any court in respect of the exercise by him of those powers.”
The prime minister and Mr Ahsan had said on various occasions they would definitely file a review petition in case of conviction.