Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's lawyer today contended in the Supreme Court that the same bench which had served the premier notice for contempt could not hear the case against him as it violated the Constitution.
Aitzaz Ahsan, who was making his arguments in contempt case against Gilani for failing to act on the apex court's orders to revive graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland, said the hearing of the case by the same bench violates Article 10(a) of the Constitution that provides a right to due process and fair trial.
The seven-member bench led by justice Nasir-ul-Mulk replied that it did 0not matter if the contempt hearing was initiated on an application or on a suo motu notice and that the same set of judges will hear the case.
Ahsan contended that irrespective of the issue of lack of confidence in a judge, the case was important as the matter of the premier's disqualification was involved.
He repeated that a judge who had issued the notice for contempt should not sit in judgement.
"Now Article 10(a) says if a complainant sits as judge, you cannot get a fair trial," Ahsan said.
He argued that the "harsh language" used by the Supreme Court in an order issued on January 10 made it seem as though the judges had already decided to punish the Prime Minister.
After hearing Ahsan's arguments, the bench adjourned the case till March 26.
The Supreme Court initiated contempt proceedings against Gilani after he repeatedly refused to act on the court's directives to approach Swiss authorities to revive cases of alleged money laundering against Zardari. The judiciary has been pressuring the government on the issue since late 2009, when it struck down a graft amnesty that benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others.