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Contempt of court against Pak PM

world Updated: Feb 03, 2012 00:47 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times
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Pakistan prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has again been summoned by the country’s Supreme Court on contempt of court charges on February 13 as the hearing of a case against the Prime Minister concluded on Thursday.

The PM’s legal team has said it will appeal the decision. This is the first time a Pakistani PM will be charged in this manner. If found guilty, there is an expectation he would be forced to step down.

There are questions now that if the PM is convicted in this case. “If that happens, the PM will have to step down,” said legal expert Faraz Chaudhry. But there is still a lot of grey area to be covered, remarked analysts.

The summons came after the PM’s counsel was unable to give an assurance that a letter would be written to the Swiss authorities to reopen a corruption case against President Zardari on the instructions of the court. The court said that a charge sheet would be finalised on contempt by the prime minister when he appears before the court.

The judges asked the PM’s legal team why there was a delay in writing a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen a case against President Zardari. The PM’s lawyer, Aitezaz Ahsan, argued earlier that the President enjoyed immunity and that is why no letter was written to the Swiss authorities.

He further strengthened his argument in the case by presenting chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s earlier order which stated that the prime minister is obliged to take advice in all matters before taking any decision. Ahsan had stressed in the last hearing that Gilani did not take the decision of not writing the letter to Swiss authorities himself, but was instead advised to take the step.

The court on Thursday, said that it accepted that argument that the law ministry had advised against writing the letter. One of the judges then asked, “Now we are asking you to write the letter to reopen the case. Will your client do so?” To this Aitezaz Ahsan did not give a clear answer.

Justice Nasirul Mulk, heading the nine-member bench, remarked that the premier was efficient in listening to the Law Ministry and the Human Rights Division, but did not give due consideration to the court’s orders. “The prime minister has the right to turn down law ministry’s advice,” justice Athar pointed out.


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