SC adjourns PM's appeal until tomorrow

February 09, 2012

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Supreme Court of Pakistan. — Photo by AP

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court, on Thursday, adjourned hearing of the intra-court appeal challenging the Supreme Court’s order in a contempt case against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, who was heading the eight-member bench, directed Aitzaz Ahsan (PM’s counsel) to complete his arguments on Friday (tomorrow) by 10:30 am.

As the day's proceedings began, the CJ showed displeasure over certain parts of the 200-page draft of the appeal.

He said that a country’s prime minister should have high ethical standards and that the language of the appeal gave the impression that the premier wanted to influence the court’s judgment.

Three paragraphs of the draft were later removed on the directions of Chief Justice Chaudhry, after Ahsan and the advocate on record agreed.

The chief justice remarked that if the premier wrote the letter to Swiss authorities for reopening graft cases against President Asif Zardari, the matter would be settled.

He also urged Ahsan to advise his client to not show disrespect towards the court.

Ahsan presented his arguments before the court and pointed out that the Swiss authorities had themselves closed the cases in 2008, when Zardari took office, on the grounds of immunity and that there was no third party to claim the funds.

He said that Gilani was appearing before the court in a personal capacity and if convicted, Gilani who would be sent to jail not the prime minister of the country, but its citizen.

He also requested the court to dismiss the case.

During the hearing, the chief justice insisted that the prime minister should have taken the initiative in re-opening those cases.

The court said it had shown patience in the two years and three months, since it ordered that the matter be taken up with the Swiss authorities.

The judges, CJ Chaudhry said, had taken their oaths under the Constitution of Pakistan and gave judgments in accordance with the it.

Also, Justice Tariq Parvez in his remarks said that the prime minister keeps reiterating that he “freed the judges” and thatthat whatever a prime minister does, he/she does in his/her official capacity.

“We refused to take oath under the PCO and did not request anyone to reinstate us,” Justice Parvez said.

The premier’s appeal had said it would be ironic to send to prison a democratically elected prime minister who had released detained judges of the court even before taking oath as the chief executive.

Filed by Ahsan on Wednesday, the appeal had immediately been fixed for Thursday before an eight-judge larger Supreme Court bench since the prime minister has been summoned by a seven-judge bench on Feb 13 for the framing of charges.

The appeal, citing a number of cases, requests the court to set aside the Feb 2 order of summoning the prime minister on Feb 13 and the show-cause notice in the interest of justice and suspend the proceedings before the seven-judge bench hearing the contempt case.