Supreme Court censures the prime minister in contempt case

Seven member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) Thursday resumed the contempt of court case against Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was criticized by the court over his assertion that he cannot act upon the ruling for the time being.
Defending the PM Gilani’s measure not to write Swiss letter avoiding the court order for over two years now, his counsel Aitezaz Ahsan said the matter relates the President of the State, who enjoys out and out immunity at home and abroad; hence, it is not a breach of judicial order (if the PM Gilani does not write letter to Swiss authorities to re-open graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari), adding instead, it pertains to the esteem of Pakistan among world communities, a private TV channel reported.
He added presidential immunity stays in effect until he (President Asif Ali Zardari) is in office.
Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani remarked he did not solicit immunity under Article-248 of the Constitution. On this, Aitezaz said the PM’s counsel cannot demand this, as only president or governor can seek immunity and the case being heard by the court is against the Prime Minister, not the president.
Aitezaz furthermore said he did not raise the issue against the judges of present bench not on the basis of partiality; instead, the issue was raised in the light of Article-10A of the Constitution, according to which, it would amount to negation of fair trial if a bench issuing show-cause notice or framing charge sheet, hears the same case.
‘I took no personal exception against any honorable judge of the bench,’ he added.
Justice Gulzar remarked if the judges are deprived of the power of hearing on the basis of charge-sheet, it will entail far-reaching consequences.
The PM’s counsel said Article-10A is a fundamental right and no law contradicting it, can stay as it is. Justice Aijaz Afzal said it is the prerogative of the Chief Justice to incorporate any judge in the bench.
Replying to this, Ahsan said the Chief Justice forms any bench under Supreme Court’s rules, not under the Constitution, adding these rules are not above the Constitution.
Justice Nasirul Mulk stressed the PM Gilani’s assertion that he cannot implement the court’s order for the time being, is a violation of the judicial ruling. The hearing was adjourned till tomorrow (Friday).

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