SC adjourns PM contempt case hearing

February 01, 2012

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Supreme Court of Pakistan. — Photo by AP

ISLAMABAD: Adjourning the hearing in the contempt case against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to Feb 2, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, the prime minister's counsel, to complete his arguments in the case by tomorrow, DawnNews reported.

During the hearing, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said that if Ahsan failed to successfully argue his client’s position by tomorrow then the premier would be charged with contempt of court.

A seven-judge bench of the apex court heard the case against the prime minister.

Justice Khosa moreover said that if Ahsan managed to convince the bench in his initial arguments tomorrow, then contempt proceedings against the prime minister would not be initiated.

Earlier, during today’s hearing, Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk said to Ahsan that if a convincing argument for presidential immunity was established, then there would be no need to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the prime minister.

Moreover, Justice Ejaz Afzal said that the letter to Swiss authorities should have been written and the issue of immunity would have come later.

The premier’s counsel told the bench that the president enjoyed immunity from prosecution both inside and outside Pakistan. He further said that while there was no harm in writing the letter to Swiss authorities, not writing the letter was not tantamount to committing contempt of court.

To which, Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk said that the Constitution enabled the court to penalise those who would not comply with its orders.

Earlier on Jan 19, the prime minister had told the apex court respectfully that he had no intention of defaming or ridiculing the judiciary. But, he said, he believed that the Constitution provided a blanket protection to President Asif Ali Zardari.