Supreme Court of Pakistan
Supreme Court of Pakistan. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: A petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Tuesday challenging the new contempt of court bill, DawnNews reported.

The National Assembly had on Monday passed the 13-clause bill which exempts “holders of public office” from the mischief of contempt in “exercise of powers and performance of functions” and allows for suspension of a sentence during the pendency of an appeal.

Petitioner Siddique Baloch has said that by proposing the bill, the government has taken an unconstitutional and unlawful step.

Baloch requested the court to declare the contempt bill as void and listed the federation and the law ministry as parties in his petition.

Bill passed in NA; to be tabled in Senate

On Monday, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, the largest opposition party, and some other opposition members protested against the bill but their opposition seemed to be only token as they participated in the voice vote with shouts of ‘no’ against ‘ayes’.

The bill must be passed also by the Senate and get a formal presidential assent to become law, which will repeal the existing effective contempt law: The Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 (V of 2003), under which a July 19 order of a Supreme Court bench disqualified then prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from holding his office and membership of the National Assembly with effect from his contempt of court conviction by another bench on April 26.

In view of a controversy about which of several contempt laws should have actually held the field since a 1976 act, the new bill confirms the repeal also of the Contempt of Court Act 1976, the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 (IV of 2003) and the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2004.

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