SC reserves verdict in PM’s contempt case

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme court reserves the verdict in contempt of court case aginst PM Yousaf Raza Gilani, here on Tuesday.

The verdict will be announced on April 26 (Thursday).

Justice Nasir ul Mulk told Aitzaz Ahsan that they would announce judgement in the presence of his client (the Prime Minister).

During the course of proceedings, Attorney General Irfan Qadir contended that the Prime Minister did not commit any contempt and the contempt of court charges against him were groundless.

“The PM has never been the party in this case (NRO) and prior to charges, there was no direct order for him,” he added.

He said from the record, he could not find the date on which the PM had committed contempt.

The Prime Minister might have different opinion over court’s orders so would it be fair to hold him in contempt? he questioned.

Irfan said that the process to cater to such situation was provided in Article 248 as the PM was immune to judicial proceedings.

He said the court should not pass an order for re-opening of the cases which had been closed on merits.

To a bench’s query, he replied that during hearing of NRO review, the court was not properly assisted but it was neither the fault of the court nor of the government.

The Attorney General said that expression of an opinion over a judicial verdict could not be accounted for contempt of court.

Referring to writing of letters to Swiss authorities by former

attorneys, he said Chaudhry Farooq’s legacy still thrived as Justice (retd) Khalilur Rehman Ramday, former judge of the Supreme Court, had given a detailed interview on the subject which was unprecedented.

He said the prosecution process in Geneva was very elaborate as an accused could not be tried twice for the same offence but this stance was not presented before the apex court during hearing of main NRO case.

About role of prosecutors, Irfan referred to UN Guidelines 1990 and said that those should be followed and could not be ignored. It would be the responsibility of prosecutors to convict the guilty and not the innocent.

Dispelling media reports about his partiality as prosecutor, he said he would remain neutral and assist the court in every possible manner.

He pleaded that the bench should avoid clash between state organs as a section of media had created hype.

He argued that there was no contempt of court law in the country as no statutory backing was provided to Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 under Article 89 while the subsequent Ordinance of 2004 was only protected through Article 270 AA, without repealing the earlier one.

He said as a matter of propriety, the bench could refer the case to the Chief Justice for constituting of a 17-member bench like the CJ’s mishandling case.

The bench observed that if there was no contempt law, then the court had powers under Article 204.

Irfan Qadir said that NRO was a unique case in the entire judicial history of the world as it was not contested by anyone but about 8,000 persons were condemned unheard.

“The one page law was struck down with a 300-page judgement,” he added.

He said correct aspects were not placed before the court in implementation case, as certain directives in the NRO judgement were not implementable.

“Ten escaped and let the one suffer,” under an old maxim would not be fair, he added.

On a bench’s question, he replied that under the criminal proceedings, the bench could reopen its judgement on NRO.

He appealed to the bench to exercise judicial restraint and said that all organs should avoid clash.

To Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmani’s remarks about writing a letter to the Swiss authorities, the Attorney General responded that the court should pursue the case in accordance with law and not with emotions.

Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan concluded his rebuttal by saying that the same bench was overseeing the implementation issue and on the other hand, conducting the parallel criminal proceedings, which had prejudiced his case.

He said the documents referred by the AG under Article 187 could be admissible and it should be accepted for larger interest of justice.

He contended that the same bench had merged its two jurisdictions in one proceeding and referred to plane hijacking case of 2000 and Mian Nawaz Sharif’s case of 2009, to establish his point.

He also complained that March 8 order by the same bench was passed in his absence.

He said his client had great respect for the judiciary and was of the view that the court’s orders should be implemented but wanted that for the time being as long as, the President was holding his office, the writing of letter for alleged criminality, would be a humiliation of the symbol of federation of Pakistan, who was also the supreme commander of the armed forces and a respected part of the Parliament.

He also cited Indian Supreme Court case over Manmohan Singh, by saying that the verdict did not attribute criminal intention to the Indian PM.