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Power and its six degrees of separation

Published Aug 03, 2012 09:00am

The conflict between Pakistan’s executive orders and judicial authorities dates back to the era of Liaquat Ali Khan when the country was in its teething years. Throughout the course of Pakistan’s history the judiciary has played an integral role in the development of country, however, the public opinion remains that the judiciary of Pakistan is more inclined towards the military command and has favoured it often.

The time line provides a perspective of the political events that shaped the history of Pakistan and gave rise to various conflicting moments.

October 1954: The constituent assembly made some amendments in the constitution which resulted in revocation of Malik Ghulam Muhammad’s power as a governor general – rights which had previously empowered him to dismiss Khawaja Nazimuddin’s government.

1955: Following the decision made by the constituent assembly Ghulam Muhammad dissolved it, a move which was contested by Maulvi Tamiz-ud-din, the president of constituent assembly, in Sindh High Court.

Sindh Court’s verdict was in Maulvi Tamiz-ud-din’s favour however Supreme Court of Pakistan reversed the decision. This verdict was announced by Justice Munir.

August 1955: Iskander Mirza took charge as the fourth governor general of Pakistan and dismissed Muhammad Ali Bogra. For further details click here

October 1958: Iskander Mirza, with the assistance of his commander-in-chief Muhammad Ayub Khan, suspended 1956’s constitution and declared the fist martial law in Pakistan – which lasted till 1962. This step involved dissolution of provincial and national assemblies and termination of various ministers. For further details click here

The coup and martial law were unconstitutional moves, however were permitted by Justice Munir. His actions played an active role in establishing the famous ‘doctrine of necessity’ – a term which signifies extra-legal actions undertaken by the significant state actors in order to restore law and order in the country.

April 1973: Bhutto formulated 1973’s constitution which was drafted unanimously by the ruling and opposing parties of the country. For further details click here

August 1973: According to the constitution of 1973, the power of decision making was at prime minister’s discretion and president only served as the figure head. Following this article, Bhutto was sworn in as the prime minister of Pakistan, on August 14, 1973.

September 1976: Various amendments were introduced to the original constitution of 1973 by Bhutto, however the one which instigated uproar from the judicial command of the country entailed the curtailing of authority and jurisdiction of the judiciary. For further details click here

January 1977: A strong formation of all the opposing political parties, under the umbrella of Pakistan National Alliance (PNA), led Bhutto to call for early elections. For further details click here

March 1977: Elections were held in March and PPP won by a heavy majority, however PNA refused to accept the results and accused PPP of rigging the elections.

The political situation resulted in a strong movement against Bhutto where masses poured out onto the streets and many political leaders were arrested for their rebellion. For further details click here

July 1977: On July 5, 1977, the chief of army staff general Zia-ul-Haq, declared the third martial law in Pakistan and suspended the constitution. For further details click here

November 1977: Nusrat Bhutto filed a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the martial law imposed by Zia-ul-Haq, however the court validated the imposition under the ‘Doctrine of necessity’. For further details click here

April 1979: Bhutto was executed following charges of corruption and extrajudicial killings. For further details click here

Bhutto’s case remains one of the most intriguing and controversial political case in the history of Pakistan.

A bench of seven judges was constituted in order to decide the proceeding of ZAB’s case. Three judges acquitted him whereas four judges declared him responsible for ordering extrajudicial murders. However, when Bhutto filed a petition to review his case, all the seven judges rejected it out rightly. For further details click here

1980: Zia issued the infamous provisional constitutional order of 1980 which granted exclusion of all martial law actions from the jurisdiction of courts. However, Quetta High court declared that the issuance of aforementioned stipulation and order go beyond the parameters of martial law regime.

1981: After this ruling, General Zia issued PCO of 1981 which required all the judges to take new oaths validating that they will work in concurrence with the order. As a result of this 16 judges were fired and three refused to take oath but the rest succumbed under the pressure. For further details click here

February 1985: General Zia-ul-Haq became the president and Muhammad Khan Junejo was elected as the prime minister of Pakistan.

November 1985: The eighth amendment was introduced to 1973’s constitution, which affected 19 clauses of the entire constitution. The constitution gave sufficient power to the president of Pakistan including the authority to dissolve the national assembly, specified as Article 58(2) b. For further details click here

According to the newly added clause, all the decisions pertaining to the governance and administration of the country were to be made in consensus with the president.

The articles and changes made to the constitution changed the entire system from parliamentary to presidential regime.

May 1988: General Zia dismissed Junejo’s government on alleged corruption charges of national wealth, exercising article 58(2) b. For further details click here

August 1988: General Zia-ul-Haq along with his entourage and American official died in a plane crash. For further details click here

October 1988: During the Haji Saifullah Khan vs The Federation of Pakistan’s case, the Supreme court of Pakistan declared that dissolution of assembly by General Zia was an unconstitutional move, however the court did not revoke the orders as the entire nation was already geared up for the elections. For further details click here

Elections of 1988: Soon after the death of Zia-ul-Haq, elections were held in the country, which were won by PPP. Benazir Bhutto, the daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was elected as the first woman prime minister of Pakistan.

August 1990: Following the rising conflicts between Khan and Bhutto, the former dissolved the parliament and sacked Bhutto on corruption charges, appointing Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi as the interim prime minister. For further details click here

November 1990: Pakistan Muslim League won the provincial and national elections and Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was elected as the prime minister.

April 1993: Sharif served as the prime minister till April 19, 1993, however Khan then dissolved the parliament again on charges of corruption by Sharif government and announced the date of elections to be held within a course of few months.

The elections were scheduled on July 14 but the Supreme Court declared Khan’s ruling as invalid and reinstated Sharif as the prime minister. For further details click here

July 1993: The mounting tensions and conflict between the president and prime minister led to the resignations of both. For further details click here

October 1993: After the general elections of 1993, which were boycotted by significant political factions including MQM, PPP won with heavy majority and Bhutto was elected as the prime minister for the second time.

November 1996: On the alleged charges of corruption and extrajudicial killings, Laghari dismissed Bhutto’s government and announced the date of next elections. For further details click here

February 1997: General elections were held on February 3, 1997 and Sharif was elected as the prime minister of Pakistan for the second time.

April 1997: The thirteenth amendment was introduced to the constitution, which empowered prime minister and gave him the right to appoint the chief of army staff and other important civil and military officials. For further details click here

The thirteenth amendment repealed the much controversial 58(2) b thereby divesting president’s power.

November 1997: The Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered Nawaz Sharif to appoint five judges which was ignored by him. Following the alleged misconduct chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah issued a contempt of court order against Sharif and summoned him to the court, after which Sharif agreed to carry out the orders. For further details click here

One of the biggest mob attacks was staged on November 28, 1997, when thousands of political workers gate crashed into the Supreme Court of Pakistan to protest against the contempt of court hearing. For further details click here

July 1999: Asif Ali Zardari was imprisoned following charges pertaining to corruption and money laundering by Sharif government. For further details click here

October 1999: The military command, headed by General Parvez Musharraf, took charge of the state of affairs and staged a coup against Sharif’s regime.

Following the coup, Nawaz Sharif and his collaborators were arrested for various charges pertaining to hijacking and kidnapping, but were later pardoned by the government and sent to Saudi Arabia on exile. For further details click here

February 2002: Government decided to repeal the 13th and 14th amendments introduced by Sharif in 1973’s constitution. For further details click here

April 2002: Referendum was held in 2002 in which major portion of the Pakistanis voted for General Musharraf, resulting in his appointment as the president for the next five years. For further details click here

2004: Asif Ali Zardari is released from the court and goes on an overseas exile. For further details click here

March 2007: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was suspended by the President Musharraf as he refused to oblige to him by stepping down from his position. Chaudhary was accused of corruption, misdemeanour and stepping out of judicial parameters.

His suspension instigated a political and judicial turmoil over the country – a turmoil which was considered one of the factors in toppling Musharraf’s government. For further details click here

July 2007: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary was reinstated in a ruling headed by Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday. For further details click here

The ruling was given by a 13 member bench which unanimously decided that the petitions file by President Musharraf were unfounded and faulty.

October 2007: Musharraf won the presidential election but was challenged by the Supreme Court.

November 2007: President Musharraf declared a state of emergency and suspended the constitution and parliament simultaneously. For further details click here

Musharraf also ordered the house arrest of the Chief Justice and the judges responsible for his reinstatement.

December 2007: Musharraf revoked his previous orders and lifted the emergency on December 15.

February 2008: General elections were held in Pakistan in which Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-N won a major chunk of the seats. Both the majority parties formed a coalition government in which Yousuf Raza Gilani was elected as the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

June 2008: The long march was organised by the lawyers, who sought the restoration of Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry as chief justice. The march concluded in Islamabad on June 14, demanding the ouster of President Musharraf. For further details click here

August 2008: Ruling coalition (PPP and PML-N) decided, for the third time, to reinstate Chaudhry.

August 2008: President Musharraf resigned after PPP and PML-N launched impeachment proceedings against him. For further details click here

August 2008: PML-N left the coalition, as the government failed to reinstate the chief justice.

September 2008: Asif Ali Zardari won the presidential election. For further details click here

December 2009: The Supreme Court of Pakistan issued a petition to consider NRO 2007 to be null and void which provided immunity to the offenders of law, including money launderers and embezzlers. The ordinance of 2007 was drafted and approved by President Pervez Musharraf.

The court asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to reopen the cases against President Zardari entailing the Swiss scam; allegations which the premier out rightly denies to date.

October 2011: Mansoor Ijaz wrote an article in Financial Times where he revealed that he delivered a memorandum written by a Pakistani official posted in the US to Admiral Mike Mullen. The revelation created a frenzy of activity in Pakistan bringing the role of then ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, into question. For further details click here

The memo is speculated to have been written just after Osama bin Laden’s killing in Pakistan and allegedly seeks help from the US to rein in the country’s military and intelligence agencies. For further details click here

November 2011: Hussain Haqqani resigns from his position amidst chaos and allegations pertaining to him having drafted the controversial memo. For further details click here

December 2011: Nawaz Sharif and his alliances filed a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan to further investigate the memo scandal

The Supreme Court of Pakistan declares that the petitions filed by Nawaz Sharif and other political leaders to further investigate the memo scandal, are ‘maintainable’.

Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani publicly announced that he and his party members will not accept ‘a state within a state’; a remark which instigated a sense of disagreement between the civil and military command within the country. For further details click here

However, General Kayani reiterated that the army does not aim to ‘stage a coup’ and this is another tactic deployed by the government to digress from memo scandal.

January 2012: The Supreme Court of Pakistan issued a warning against the government to implement and execute the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) issued in the December of 2009, by writing to the Swiss government.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani terminated the secretary defence, Khalid Naeem Lodhi, on alleged misconduct and disciplinary actions. For further details click here

Moreover, Gilani is issued a contempt of court notice in the NRO implementation case, and is directed to appear before the apex court on January 19. He appoints Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan to represent him in the Supreme Court. For further details click here

On the other hand, the apex court suspended Babar Awan’s licence to practice in the court and asked for a replacement of Awan with another lawyer to represent President Zardari in the Bhutto reference. For further details click here

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani appeared in front of the Supreme Court to defend the contempt of court charges filed against him.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan adjourned the session by postponing the hearing until February 1, 2012. However, the court exempted Gilani from appearing in the next scheduled hearing. For further details click here

The memogate case took an interesting turn when Ijaz refused to come to Pakistan over security concerns, which instigated Haqqani to file an application to disqualify Ijaz from the proceedings of the case. For further details click here and here

February 2012: Supreme Court of Pakistan announced its verdict on February 2, 2012 signifying that Gilani will be indicted of the charges pertaining to contempt of court. Gilani has been summoned to appear before the court on February 13, 2012, however, he has decided to file an appeal before the appointed date. For further details click here.

Moreover, during the same month, the ruling party and the opposition failed to reach an agreement on the 20th amendment's bill. The bill aims to validate more than two dozen post-eighteenth amendment by-elections. For further details click here.

Simultaneously, Aitzaz Ahsan filed an intra-court appeal requesting Supreme Court of Pakistan to suspend the decision of framing charges against Prime Minister Gilani.

On February 9, Supreme Court of Pakistan adjourned the contempt of court hearing against Prime Minister Gilani and instructed Ahsan to complete his arguments by February 10. Chief Justice of Pakistan showed displeasure over certain points of the 200-page appeal and claimed that the language used in the document gave a negative impression of influencing the court of law. For further details click here and here

On February 10, an eight-member bench dismissed Gilani’s appeal to review the previously announced verdict on contempt of court charges. Gilani has decided to appear before the court on the designated date. For further details click here.

Moreover, the Supreme Court ordered ISI to present 11 missing persons, who have been in the agency's illegal detention, before the court on the same day or face action. For further details click here.

Furthermore, memo case witnessed a few developments in which Islamabad high court allowed the commission to record Ijaz’s statements via video link from London on February 22, 2012 at 2 pm local time. For further details click here.

The supreme Court of Pakistan indicted Prime Minister Gilani for charges pertaining to contempt of court on February 13, 2012.

The Supreme court ordered the prosecutor, attorney general, to submit sufficient documents by February 16.

PM's counsel has been ordered to compile and submit evidence by February22 whereas Gilani's evidence will be recorded on February 27 and 28. For further details click here

After a fortnight of dispute and push backs, the government and opposition unanimously push through the National assembly a revised constitution amendment on February 14. The amendment provides for a strong Election Commission, a pre-election interim set-up and restoration of 28 suspended federal and provincial lawmakers.However the bill was deferred by the senate on February 17 because of various discrepancies between the opposition and the government. For further details click here and here

The 20th amendment bill was finally adopted by the senate on Monday, February 20, 2012 but not unanimously as the National Assembly had done last week.

The adoption of the amendment by the upper house of parliament has cleared the way for the president to sign the bill which envisages an independent and powerful election commission, setting up of a neutral caretaker regime to hold general elections and restoration of 28 suspended lawmakers. For further details click here.

Moreover, the hearing on contempt of court was further adjourned till February 28. The Supreme Court ordered Ahsan to submit complete evidence by the designated date. For further details click here.

Furthermore on February 27, a day before the formal contempt of court hearing, Gilani's counsel submitted a miscellaneous application requesting two top government officers and a former law minister to be summoned as court witnesses.

Ahsan requested the court to summon Cabinet and Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi, Law Secretary Masood Chishti and former law minister Babar Awan to record their statements as court witnesses. For further details click here.

Subsequently, on February 28, Ahsan, referring to the various arguments on appeal, said that he wanted to present evidences and witnesses and that a chance should be granted to him to examine them.

Supreme Court adjourned the contempt of court hearing against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani till March 7. For further details click here.

March 2012: The contempt of court hearing continued on March 7, 2012, in which Defence and Cabinet Secretary, Nargis Sethi testified as a witness before the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Sethi acknowledged that two summaries were sent to Prime Minister by the Ministry of Law.

Supreme Court adjourned the contempt of court hearing till March 8, 2012. For further details click here

On March 8, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered Gilani to submit the written reply by March 19 and adjourned the contempt of court hearing till March 21. Simultaneously, on the same day, Supreme Court in a hearing pertaining to National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case, ordered Prime Minister Gilani to correspond with the Swiss authorities again. For further details click here and here.

On March 14, Ahsan, whilst addressing the media, said that the Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq, being the prosecutor of the case, was ordered by the court to write a letter to the Swiss authorities. He said that the orders were given to the prosecutor in his absence on March 8.

Ahsan further commented that he will present his arguments on not corresponding with the Swiss authorities in the court on March 19 and 21 respectively. For further details click here.

Prime Minister Gilani, on March 15, publicly announced his refusal to correspond with the Swiss authorities.

He further commented that writing a letter would be a violation to the constitution which carries death sentence whereas the refusal to correspond might result in six months' imprisonment which is better than the former penalty. For further details click here.

Gilani, whilst addressing the journalists at his residence on March 18, said that he is ready to resign from the premiership if that will resolve the issue of writing a letter to Swiss authorities. For further details click here.

Moreover, Ahsan on March 19 stated that Gilani’s conviction will not necessarily result in disqualification as a sentence of less than two years cannot affect anyone’s eligibility. On the same day, Gilani submitted his written reply in the Supreme Court of Pakistan stating his official refusal to correspond with the Swiss authorities. For further details click here and here

The hearing on contempt of court against PM Gilani continued on March 21 in which Ahsan said that they never refused to correspond with the Swiss officials neither did they disagree with the court's orders. Ahsan also said that he still believes that corresponding with the Swiss authorities will not serve the purpose as President Zardari enjoys immunity.

Furthermore, Justice Asif Khoja said that if the accused pleads guilty, then we can think about leaving the matter up to the people.

Ahsan was of the opinion that expecting a fair judgment from the seven-member bench after six-option verdict was difficult.

The hearing was then adjourned till March 22. For further details click here.

Contempt of court hearing continued, on March 22, for the second consecutive day in which Ahsan said that according to article 10 (a), fair trial remains a constitutional right of every Pakistani citizen. Ahsan also claimed that the current trial contradicts the aforementioned article.

Moreover, Ahsan challenged the eligibility of judges who issued a show cause notice to Gilani, however the court replied to his argument by stating that if Ahsan's stance on this issue is considered valid then every defendant will feel free to challenge the court.

The hearing was adjourned till March 26, 2012 however on the designated date, the contempt of court hearing was adjourned without being heard as Ahsan was unable to appear before the court. For further details click here and here.

On March 27, the Supreme Court adjourned the contempt of court hearing against PM Gilani till April 12.

The decision was taken after Ahsan said that he would not be able to provide evidence in the court due to his ill health. For further details click here.

On March 29, the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing for National Reconciliation Order (NRO) implementation case till April 16.

According to the court, the final verdict for the case is expected to be announced on the same date.

Moreover, PM Gilani may face another contempt case as the court decided to issue an appropriate order on April 16 after expressing displeasure over the response the prime minister had submitted on March 21 in which he threw the ball back to the judiciary’s court by requesting it to first settle the contempt matter and then raise the issue of implementation of the NRO verdict. For Further details click here and here.

April 2012:

On April 12, the Supreme Court resumed hearing of the contempt of court hearing against Prime Minister Gilani.

Ahsan argued that under Article 10 (a) of the constitution of Pakistan, the sitting bench remains ineligible to hear the case.

He further stated that the clause on transparent proceedings emphasises on the fact that no person can be a judge in his own case. However, Justice Khosa said that all proceedings regarding contempt of court cases are only completed by the court.

The court has adjourned the hearing till April 13. For further details click here.

On March 13, The Supreme Court resumed the hearing of the contempt of court case against Prime Minister Gilani.

The newly appointed Attorney General of Pakistan, Irfan Qadir, was also present in the court.

Qadir was permitted by the court to act as a prosecutor in the case and was provided with two days to start his arguments.

Whilst presenting his evidence, PM's counsel Ahsan, informed the court that he was being harassed by a particular media group and was being accused of lying. Ahsan also asked the court to provide him with security. For further details click here.

The hearing against PM's contempt case continued on April 16 and Ahsan, whilst defending his client, reiterated that under Article 10-(a) of the constitution, the present bench could not try the prime minister for contempt as that would be in conflict with the principles of a fair trial.

Aitzaz-Ahsan
Moreover, Justice Khosa commented on Ahsan's argument by saying that the court was exercising its authority to conduct the trial.

Ahsan also requested the court to delay its decision on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case as he is of the view that his arguments would be of no use after a decision on the NRO is announced.

The verdict on NRO was expected today however NRO's hearing was adjourned till May 3 whilst the court directed authorities to bring former attorney general Malik Abdul Qayyum back to Pakistan.

The hearing pertaining to contempt of court was adjourned till April 17. For further details click hereand here.

Prime Minister's counsel, Ahsan, on April 17, refused to complete his arguments in the contempt of court case against his client by April 19.

During the course of the hearing, Supreme Court directed Ahsan to complete the arguments by the aforementioned date.

Ahsan said he was appearing in court despite ill health and that he could not specify as to when he would complete the arguments.

zardari_gul_afp
The hearing was adjourned till April 18. For further details click here.

Presenting his arguments regarding presidential immunity before the court, Ahsan reiterated that heads of state enjoyed immunity from prosecution in criminal and civil cases in courts across the globe.

Ahsan concluded his arguments with respect to Article 10 A and also emphasised on the point that parliament remains independent regarding the law and constitution.

The hearing was adjourned till April 19. For further details click here.

During the hearing of the contempt of court case against prime minister, on April 19, Ahsan said the United Nations, in one of its reports, had granted immunity to heads of state from prosecution in a foreign country.

Ahsan also produced the report before the Supreme Court’s seven-judge bench, headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk, to support his argument on presidential immunity.

He further said that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) had also stopped courts from trying heads of state in the past. For further details click here.

yousuf-raza-gilani
The hearing on contempt of court continued on April 20 during which Ahsan said that the prime minister only followed procedure and implemented the summaries presented to him.

He added that if the summaries did not provide the premier with the ‘right’ input, then he cannot be held responsible for committing contempt of court by not writing to Swiss authorities.

Ahsan moreover said that writing the letter would demean the office of the president.

Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked that not implementing court's judgments was akin to committing contempt of court. For further details click here.

During the course of the hearing on April 24, newly-appointed Attorney General of Pakistan Irfan Qadir claimed that no law addressing contempt of court existed in Pakistan.

Qadir made the claim while presenting his arguments in the contempt of court case.

He further said that a contempt of court ordinance was promulgated in the country in July 2003 but that it had expired in December 2003.

The Attorney General moreover said that it was the prosecution’s duty to ensure that no innocent was penalised.

Gilani-SC-verdict
The verdict on PM's contempt of court case will be announced on April 26. For further details click here.

Supreme Court of Pakistan, on April 26, found PM Gilani guilty of contempt of court for refusing to reopen corruption cases against the president, but gave him only a symbolic sentence of 30 seconds detention in the court room. For further details click here.

Prime Minister Gilani, on April 26, refused to step down after his contempt of court conviction, saying only the country’s parliament could remove him from office.

“There is no law to remove an elected prime minister. Parliament is the supreme authority and only this parliament has the authority to remove me,” he said in a defiant appearance in the National Assembly a day after the Supreme Court verdict. For further details click here.

Prime Minister Gilani, on April 30, said he would not resign from his position, adding that the Supreme Court’s conviction had no relation with the process of disqualification.

Speaking to reporters in Islamabad, he said there was no law under which the court could disqualify an elected representative of the people.

He further said that he had the right of appeal against the apex court’s ruling. For further details click here.

Iftikhar-Chaudhry-180
May 2012:

Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry said, on May 1, 2012, that three judges who were part of the bench that heard the contempt case against the prime minister would not be available if a review petition came up.

Chaudhry did not identify the three judges who would not be “available” nor did he specify the reason. For further details click here.

Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza, on May 3, said that she had not made up her mind regarding the Supreme Court’s conviction of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

She said she would consider the subject once the detailed verdict on the contempt of court case comes out. For further details click here.

The Supreme Court issued the detailed verdict in the contempt of court case against Prime Minister Gilani on May 8.

The verdict, comprising 77 pages, was authored by Justice Nasirul Mulk.

The verdict stated that the PM did not comply with court's orders and deliberately disregarded the court. It also said that it is clear that the judiciary was ridiculed at the highest levels of the government. For further details click here.

Fehmida Mirza
Advocate Muhammad  Azhar Siddique, on May 11, submitted a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan seeking the disqualification of Prime Minister Gilani.

The petitioner contended that a convicted person cannot hold the prime minister’s office.

He further added that neither Speaker National Assembly Fehmida Mirza nor the Election Commission of Pakistan has any role in this regard. For further details click here.

National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, on May 24, decided not to forward the disqualification reference against Prime Minsiter Gilani to the Election Commission of Pakistan after his conviction by the Supreme Court in the contempt of court case. For further details click here.

Prime Minister Gilani and his close legal and political advisers, on May 25, discussed 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. For further details click here.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), on May 28, filed a petition in the Supreme Court against a ruling by the NA Speaker refusing to disqualify the prime minister.

The petition challenged NA Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza’s decision not to disqualify PM Gilani as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, a month after the Supreme Court convicted Gilani of contempt. For further details click here.

Prime Minister Gilani, on May 29, said that both Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Chief Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan were not members of parliament which was why they could not understand the significance of speaker's ruling.

Speaking to media representatives in Islamabad, the premier categorically stated that National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza’s ruling pertaining to the disqualification reference was final and could not be challenged. For further details click here.

June 2012:

The Supreme Court, on June 6, admitted the petitions filed against Speaker Fehmida Mirza’s ruling on the disqualification reference against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for hearing.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry heard the petitions.

The petitions were filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khwaja Asif and Senator Zafar Ali Khan. For further details click here.

The hearing against National Assembly’s Speaker, Fehmida Mirza, ruling case continued in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, on June 14.

Advocate, A K Dogar, whilst presenting his arguments, said that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, was disqualified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, however he is still running a public office.

Dogar further said that PM Gilani deliberately insulted the court and the speaker’s ruling was against the seven-member bench’s verdict. For further details click here.

The Supreme Court, on June 15, resumed the hearing on petitions challenging the ruling of the National Assembly’s Speaker on the issue of disqualification of the Prime Minister.

During the hearing, the prime minister’s counsel Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan requested the court to constitute a larger bench to hear the petitions.

The bench said that by not appealing against the conviction, the prime minister had accepted it.

Responding to which, Ahsan said that the prime minister had accepted the conviction but not disqualification. For further details click here.

The Supreme Court resumed the hearing into the Speaker ruling case on June 18.

During the hearing, a written reply from Speaker National Assembly Fehmida Mirza was submitted in the apex court by Attorney General Irfan Qadir.

Ahsan said that under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution, the Supreme Court did not have the authority to hear the petitions. For further details click here.

The Supreme Court on June 19 ruled Speaker National Assembly Fehmida Mirza’s ruling as void and declared that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani stood disqualified since April 26. Following Gilani's disqualification, President Asif Ali Zardari disregarded the option of early general elections and said that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) will announce the name of the new prime minister after National Assembly’s session on June 22. For further details click here and here.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan, on June 27, ordered the Attorney General to consult Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and inform the court regarding his decision on NRO implementation case.

The judicial bench has asked the prime minister to submit his reply on the issue of corresponding with the Swiss authorities. For further details click here.

July 2012:

On July 9, the National Assembly adopted contempt of court bill amidst protest and walkout from the main opposition party PML-N, which also boycotted the session over resumption of Nato supplies.

The bill will provide a shelter to top government officials against contempt of court proceedings.

President Asif Ali Zardari later signed the Contempt of Court Bill 2012, under which, if an accused or convict of contempt of court files an appeal, his/her show-cause notice or original order will remain suspended till final disposal of the matter.

The law also states: “An accused person may also at any stage submit an apology and the court, if satisfied, may discharge him or remit his sentence.” For further details click here and here.

The Supreme Court, on July 12, ruled that it had directed the attorney general to get orders on NRO implementation from the prime minister by stating that PM must correspond with the Swiss authorities.

According to the AG, the order was forwarded to the federal law ministry.

The Supreme Court on July 13 issued notices to the federation and the Attorney General to file their response, during a hearing on a petition filed against newly legislated Contempt of Court Act 2012. For further details click here.

The attorney general moreover said that the federal cabinet and the prime minister would make a collective decision on the issue of corresponding with Swiss authorities.

The hearing was adjourned until July 25. For further details click here.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan, on July 20, constituted a five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry, to hear the petitions filed against the new contempt of court law. For further details click here.

The Supreme Court on July 23 rejected the federation’s request of a full court to hear the petitions against the recently passed contempt of court law. For further details click here.

The Supreme Court, on July 24, resumed the hearing of petitions against the recently passed contempt of court law.

During the hearing Justice Khawaja remarked that with the new law, an attempt had been made to provide immunity to the privileged class.

Moreover, on the same day, the federal government submitted its reply in the Supreme court stating that the prime minister could not write the letter to authorities in Switzerland to reopen cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

However, the reply, submitted by Attorney General Irfan Qadir, was subsequently returned with objections.

The reply moreover requested the court to review its ruling of July 12. For further details click here and here.

The hearing on NRO implementation case continued on July 25.

Attorney General Irfan Qadir began his arguments on the issue of writing a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Qadir said that laws should be enforced and that the Supreme Court should not monitor cases in the NAB, adding that no officer of the NAB was bound to report to the apex court.

The Supreme Court also heard the petitions against the contempt of court law.

During the hearing, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said in his remarks that it was the foresight of the politicians that the issue was not brought up during the passage of the 18 Amendment and in turn the contempt of court law was given protection.

The chief justice moreover said that the Constitution did not allow anyone to ridicule the court on the basis of immunity. For further details click here and here.

The Supreme Court on July 26 resumed the hearing of petitions against the recently passed contempt of court law.

Justice Khawaja said that parliamentary proceedings could not be challenged in any court of law  and that they enjoyed protection under Article 69 of the Constitution. For further details click here.

The Supreme Court on July 27 resumed the hearing of petitions against the contempt of court law.

Chief Justice Iftikhar said that the judiciary wanted and was trying that the country’s democratic system continued.

Raja Afrasiab, the counsel for one of the petitioners, in his arguments said that the Constitution was clear on the contempt of court issue.

He added that the concept of contempt of court had been clearly defined in the Constitution’s Article 204. For further details click here.

The Supreme Court on July 30 resumed the hearing of petitions against the contempt of court law.

During the hearing, petitioner Rana Mohammad Jameel was presenting his arguments before the bench.

A petitioner, Shahid Orakzai, said that the new contempt law would have to be read in the light of the Constitution.

Chief Justice Iftikhar said that the trend in the country was such that if a decision was in favour of a party, the party considered it fair, but if it was against that party, the same party considered it unjust. For further details click here.

The Supreme Court on July 31 resumed the hearing of petitions against the contempt of court law.

During the hearing, the federation’s counsel, Abdul Shakoor Paracha, said the parliament’s authority over law making could not be challenged.

Paracha moreover argued that the new contempt of court law does not in any manner restrict the powers of the judiciary.

The Chief Justice said that the government’s claim that the new law was without flaws was incorrect, adding that, all matters of public interest could be taken up in courts. For further details click here.

August 2012:

The Supreme Court on August 1 resumed the hearing of petitions against the contempt of court law.

Chief Justice Iftikhar said the Constitution did not say that those holding public offices would be immune to prosecution in case they commit contempt of court. For further details click here.

The Supreme Court on August 2 resumed the hearing of petitions against the contempt of court law.

During the hearing, Attorney General Irfan Qadir said that four of the judges on the bench were prejudiced.

The attorney general also said that he had tried speaking up but was told to remain quiet by the judges on the bench.

The court directed Qadir to name the judges as well as his reasons for calling them prejudiced in writing. For further details click here.

The Supreme Court on August 3 declared void Sections 3, 7, 8, 10 and 11 of the contempt of court law calling them unconstitutional and illegal. For further details click here and here.

After intense deliberations and consultations with constitutional and legal experts, the coalition government decided on August 5 to move a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking review of the court order in which the apex court had struck down the Contempt of Court Act 2012 (Coca).

President Asif Ali Zardari held a detailed meeting with the Law Minister Farooq H Naek to discuss the available options to save the second prime minister from being sent home. For further details click here.

The government on August 8 filed an appeal in the Supreme Court to review its recent verdict scrapping the contempt of court law.

In the appeal, the government’s counsel, Abdul Shakoor Paracha, stated that the law was only passed following proper legislative procedures practised by the parliament and that the parliament had the authority to legislate.

Moreover, on the same day, the Supreme Court issued a show-cause notice to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf over his failure to implement its directive of writing a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. For further details click here and here.

The Supreme Court on August 15 heard the government’s review petition challenging its July 12 order asking the prime minister to write to Swiss authorities for reopening graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Justice Usmani remarked that the Constitution demanded that the prime minister obey the court’s orders.

The attorney general said that it was not a matter of anyone’s ego and that implementation on Article 248-(1) was necessary for the rule of law and for supremacy of the constitution. For further details click here.

The Supreme Court on August 16 adjourned the hearing of a government petition seeking review of the court’s July 12 order which directed the prime minister to comply with its judgment in the NRO implementation case.

During the hearing, Attorney General Irfan Qadir told the bench that he had held meetings with the prime minister and with the federal law minister, adding that, the government wanted the matter to be resolved “once and for all”.

Qadir requested to court to grant the government more time in order to carry out consultations on the matter. For further details click here.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf appeared before the Supreme Court of Pakistan on August 27.

Prime Minister Ashraf requested the court to give him four to six weeks’ time to write the letter to Swiss authorities.

Justice Khosa gave three days to the prime minister to resolve the matter saying the matter could be resolved in three days and that the prime minister should act on the court’s directive in that time period. For further details click here.

October 2012

The Supreme Court approved the draft of a letter it had ordered the government to write to the Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against the president.

Justice Khosa revealed the text of the three-paragraph letter to be sent to the attorney general of Geneva (Switzerland). The letter asks for the reopening of $60 million graft cases against the president but, at the same time, emphasises the legal protection and immunity available to him without mentioning constitutional provisions.

For further details, click here.

November 2012

The government has finally dispatched a letter to Swiss legal authorities in line with the Supreme Court’s order in the NRO case, seeking revival of a graft case which also involves President Asif Ali Zardari.

For further details, click here.

December 2012

The National Accountability Bureau on Tuesday summoned former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Dec 11 to record his statement in a case pertaining to the implementation of the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance.

For further details, click here.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan dismissed the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case and withdrew the contempt notice against Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, DawnNews reported.

A five-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali resumed the hearing over the NRO verdict implementation case.

During the hearing, Federal Law Minister Farooq H. Naek requested the court to dismiss the case and said that the letter, written by attorney general of Pakistan and sent via diplomatic channel, had been received by Swiss attorney general.

For further details, click here.

January 2013

The Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Ashraf in the rental power plant case. Prime Minister Ashraf was accused of receiving kickbacks and commissions in the RPPs case during his previous stint as federal minister for water and power.

For further details, click here.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf withdrew his review petition against the Supreme Court’s March 30, 2012 verdict declaring the government’s rental power policy non-transparent.

For further details, click here.

An officer involved in the investigation of the Rental Power Projects (RPP) case was found dead at the federal lodges number 2 in Islamabad.

Kamran Faisal who held the position of assistant director in the NAB allegedly committed suicide.

Faisal’s body was found hanging from a ceiling fan, police said, whereas sources told DawnNews that he was reportedly under extreme pressure during his investigation of the RPP case.

For further details, click here. 

The Supreme Court ordered the National Accountability Bureau to file within a week two corruption references in the Tauqir Sadiq case.

One of the references ordered to be filed points a finger at the prime minister who had allegedly approved Sadiq’s appointment as chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra).

For further details, click here.