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Assignment Contempt of court

Introduction to political science Saaila zainab 13378 Submitted to: Dr. Islam

Contempt against court


The seven-member larger bench of the Supreme Court (SC) framed charge against Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani in a suo moto case No. 4/2010 etc (Contempt of Court Matter) for non-compliance of para 178 of the Supreme Court (SC) judgement in National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). Introducing Yousuf Raza Gilani, he is the 16th and current Prime minister of Pakistan and the vice-chairman of the democratic socialist party, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Gillani was nominated for the office of prime minister and became prime minister when his party formed the coalition government with Pakistan Muslim League, Awami National Party, Assembly of Islamic Clergy and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), after his party secured a considerable victory on 2008 parliamentary elections. He is the first prime minister from the Saraiki-speaking belt, and also the longest serving prime minister with a period span of 45 months, chairing more than 100 cabinet and parliamentary sessions; the most any successive democratic government in the history of the country. In 2009, Gillani was ranked as the 38th most powerful person in the world by Forbes. The National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) was a controversial ordinance issued by the former President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, on October 5, 2007. It granted amnesty to politicians, political workers and bureaucrats who were accused of corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, murder, and terrorism between January 1, 1986, and October 12, 1999, the time between two states of martial law in Pakistan. It was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on December 16, 2009, throwing the country into a political crisis. In November 2009, Government of Pakistan released the list of the beneficiaries of the National Reconciliation Ordinance on the directives of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. The total list was 8041 beneficiaries most of which are bureaucrats, along with a handful of politicians. The cases also included some high ranking politicians such as the current President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani. Coming back to the issue, Prime Minister Gilani was served a contempt notice in the NRO implementation case when the government did not follow the courts orders of writing a letter to the Swiss authority to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. The peaceful interlude in Islamabad did not last long. By summoning Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to appear before it on Feb 13, the Supreme Court moved a step closer on Thursday to finding him guilty of contempt of the court. Dawn, February 3. On 3rd February while Barrister Aitzaz was counseling the seven member bench suddenly terminate the hearings and ordered an half an hour break to discuss the issue, because earlier justice Nasir ul Malik had said that court will hear the PM till the end of the day. Apparently what prompted the court not to proceed further was the failure in getting an assurance from the counsel that a letter would be written to the Swiss authorities by the government even if the court accepted Mr Gilanis argument that his earlier decision of not writing the letter was because of wrong advice given to him. On the other hand, Mr Ahsan

argued the government would write the letter only if the court said so and, that too, after exhausting all legal remedies. When the bench reassembled it simply said that it had decided to frame contempt charges against the prime minister. In a last-ditch effort, Mr Ahsan sought at least 30 days time to file an intra-court appeal against the order, but the bench remained unconvinced. At first the bench decided to frame the charge on Feb 10, but at the insistence of the counsel it changed the date to Feb 13. Barrister Ahsan told reporters after the hearing that he would suggest to the prime minister to consider moving an appeal against Thursdays order. Section 19 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance V of 2003 says that an intra-court appeal will go before a larger bench and the appellate court may suspend the impugned order pending disposal of the appeal. If the order is not suspended by the appellate bench, Advocate Chaudhry Faisal Hussain said, the original bench which had framed the charge would continue with the hearing in contempt trial. Ironically, Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq, being the principal law officer, will compile the charges and prosecute the prime minister. Dressed in a dark suit, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani returned to the Supreme Court on a grey Monday morning so that charges of contempt of court could be framed against him. Dawn, February 14. The proceedings were short and were over in minutes. The order issued by a seven-judge SC bench was also short. Have you heard and understood the charge? Justice Nasirul Mulk, who is heading the bench, asked the prime minister. The prime minister uttered Yes. Do you plead guilty, Justice Mulk asked. No, the prime minister replied firmly. Do you have any defence to make? the judge asked. I will give it in writing, the prime minister answered. Most of the time of court was spent on fixing the next date because Mr. Ahsan was busy and had other requirements to fulfill and he had to travel abroad, so he asked for a long date. Eventually the next date was set for Feb 22 when Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq was to exhibit evidence and provides a list of witnesses in the absence of Mr Ahsan. The prime minister was exempted from personal appearance at the next hearing. As Mr Gilani left the court premises, the charges were dissected and interpreted as legal experts began to foretell what the future may hold for him. Going through the language of the charge framed against the prime minister, I believe the prime minister cannot be disqualified, said Advocate Chaudhry Faisal Hussain while talking to Dawn.

Prime facie, it appears as if the court has charged the prime minister with civil contempt instead of judicial or criminal contempt. This means that provisions of Article 63(1 g or h) of the Constitution do not apply to this particular case, he explained. Article 63(1 g) deals with the eligibility of candidates to stand for elections and be members of parliament; and those who are guilty of defaming or ridiculing the judiciary or compromising the integrity or independence of the judiciary are deemed disqualified. The prime minister has requested to include cabinet secretary Nargis Sethi, former law minister Babar Awan and law secretary Masood Chishti as witnesses in a reply submitted by his counsel Aitzaz Ahsan to the apex court. In the reply, Mr Gilani has requested the court to call the mentioned witnesses itself because as a prime minister he does not want to leave an impression of pressurizing the government officials to testify in his favor. He also requested to bring the summary in which the prime minister was advised by the apex court not to write letter to Swiss authorities for reopening graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari under National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). Defence and Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that no summary had been received from the law ministry about reopening graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari when she worked as principal secretary to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from Sept 23, 2010 to Jan 17, 2011. Dawn March, 8th. Appearing before a seven-member bench headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk hearing a contempt of court case against Mr Gilani, she acknowledged that two summaries had been received, one on May 21 and the other on Sept 23, 2010. According to the two summaries, then law minister Babar Awan and law secretary Pir Masud Chishti had informed the premier that there was no use of writing a letter to the Swiss authorities because the cases filed against President Zardari in Swiss courts had already been withdrawn. The summaries also said that the court orders were not implementable. It was also pointed out that the president was supreme commander of the armed forces and part of parliament. Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel for Mr Gilani, defended his client by saying that the prime minister had acted on the advice in accordance with the rules of business, but said the advice might be wrong. Moreover the bench observed that Mr Ahsan could not cross-examine his own witness, but the counsel said he could prove that it was not a cross-examination. In a cross-examination you ask questions which are responded merely by saying yes or no. Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq raised an objection and said that Ms Sethi could testify only her own signature on the summaries and not of other persons. He said the summaries could be testified by the one who had prepared them. Ms Sethi told the court that the prime ministers engagements included everything listed in the rules of business and much more than that. Mr. Ahsan kept on posing questions and the court found many of them irrelevant. He, however, stressed that it was essential to bring certain things on record to make out a defense case.

Nargis sethi told that prime minister is a busy person and during the time she served him he had meetings parliamentary sessions and number of foreign visits. Ms Sethi told the court that the prime minister did not have time to minutely go through all the files reaching him. On an average, he sees 1,000 files in a month. She actually wanted to prove that PM just acted upon the advice of law minister. In an unexpected twist the Supreme Court sent shivers down the spine of many in the government when it categorically stated that the contempt case against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would not overshadow the NRO verdict. Dawn March 9, 2012. After Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq had finished questioning Defence and Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi, he was asked by the bench to inform the prime minister that pendency of the contempt proceedings would not affect the implementation part. Regardless of any advice tendered to him by the secretaries, the prime minister as chief executive of the country should implement the directive contained in paragraphs 177 and 178 of the NRO judgment, the court said. The prime minister was required to submit a report about implementation of the judgment by March 21 when the court will resume hearing of the contempt case. The court noted that despite repeated directions and warnings, it appeared that its orders were not implemented which compelled it to issue a show-cause notice to the prime minister who stated that the direction was not implementable because the president enjoyed immunity. The court also asked Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, the counsel for Mr Gilani, that he could file a reply on behalf of his client. Otherwise, the prime minister himself could appear in person to testify and record his statement on March 21. Justice Nasirul Mulk told the council that if the prime minister wanted to file a written statement, he could file it with the registrar by March 19 and if he wished to appear in person he could do so on March 21. However, arguments would start on the day the court would meet. The attorney general, who is the prosecutor in the contempt case, asked Defence and Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi a number of questions. The secretary explained that important summaries were produced before the prime minister, like the summaries of May 21 and Sept 22, 2010, suggesting not writing a letter to Swiss authorities, was tabled before him in accordance with the rules of business and usual practice. Hundreds of references came to the prime ministers house, the secretary said, but only summaries were placed before him. She conceded that she did not make any query about the two summaries because she was not required to conduct inquiries. This, she added, was the job of the secretaries concerned. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said here on Sunday that he would be ready to resign if that would help resolve the issue of writing a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. Dawn March 19, 2012. Mr Gilani, who was talking to journalists at his residence, made the remarks in response to a suggestion that he should better resign to avoid a jail sentence in the contempt of court case or a death sentence for violating the Constitution (in case of writing the letter). Mr Gilani said he

would be happy to resign and leave office if that would help resolve the issue. But I think whosoever replaces me will have to face the same dilemma as the core issue will remain there, he added. The prime minister said that time and again he had made it clear that he was not going to write the letter come what may. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani threw the ball back to the Supreme Court on Wednesday by requesting it to first settle the contempt matter and then raise the issue of implementation of the NRO verdict. Dawn March 22, 2012. he prime minister was specifically directed by the court to disregard the advice given by the secretaries concerned and implement the directive contained in paragraphs 177 and 178 in the NRO judgment. The court decided to hear the fresh reply by the prime minister on March 29, though further proceeding on the contempt matter was adjourned for Thursday that will continue on a day-to-day basis. The reply filed through the attorney general requested the court to undertake further proceedings on the NRO implementation case after completing the contempt matter. Although the contempt proceedings and the implementation case are different, yet the issue involves essentially and materially the same, it said. Barrister Ahsan insisted that the prime minister had not committed any contempt and still believed that the letter could not be written to the Swiss authorities as long as Asif Zardari was the president. For the time being, NRO verdict is not implementable because the president enjoys international protection against any criminal or civil case. We are not pleading for setting aside the NRO judgment or to review it but only highlighting that the presidents status is unique under the international law. The council also expressed lack of confidence in the bench and said that after making harsh observations against the prime minister by it in earlier orders, it would be difficult to get complete justice. The counsel said the court could not punish the respondent on assumptions, adding that judges were also fallible and could make mistakes. He then referred to the Article 10-A added to the Constitution through the 18th Amendment and emphasized that fair trial which was now a fundamental right had been made mandatory. Are you trying to say that this bench after initiating the contempt proceeding is not competent to hear the matter, Justice Nasir asked. After making such harsh pre-trial opinion, the bench should not decide the case, Mr Ahsan replied. Justice Khosa went on to explain that the respondent could have been convicted of committing the contempt straightaway, but he had been given every opportunity. Trust us we are absolutely fair and impartial and trained to become dispassionate.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani may face yet another contempt charge in addition to the one he is already confronted with for not implementing the NRO verdict. Dawn March 30, 2012. 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 judiciarys court by requesting it to first settle the contempt matter and then raise the issue of implementation of the NRO verdict. The prime minister should not be looking around seeking advices instead of implementing the order, Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan said, adding that the prime minister wanted to expose himself to another contempt proceeding. Are our orders to be interpreted by the secretaries and the prime minister? Does the prime minister have the authority over and above the court of law? Justice Ijaz asked. Now the prime minister is aggravating the situation, Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed. We are afraid this is not the compliance of our earlier order of March 8, Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, who is heading the bench, said while dictating the order. Since there is no compliance we will pass an appropriate order on April 16, the order said. Todays hearing clearly shows that the court is heading towards issuing another contempt notice, said a senior counsel who wished not to be named. However, Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood was more specific. Not only can the Supreme Court issue a separate contempt notice, it can even appoint a commission or direct its registrar or any other senior government official to write the letter on behalf of the government to the Swiss authorities for reopening the cases. Mr Mehmood also said the prime minister in the existing contempt case did not face a serious threat because he was not hit by Article 63 (1 g) of the Constitution. At present, Mr Mehmood said, the prime minister was facing a civil contempt in which he was not accused of ridiculing the judiciary. Therefore, prima facie this provision does not apply to this particular case, he said. But in case a fresh contempt was issued, he added, it could be a judicial contempt which was more serious than the existing one. While passing the fresh contempt charge, Mr Mehmood feared, the Supreme Court might also take stock of Mr Gilanis recent public addresses, especially the one in Mailsi in which he had publicly stated that he would opt for a six-month jail term for not implementing the court orders, instead of going to the gallows for committing violation of the Constitution. The legal experts have started to debate on whether the President can pardon Prime Minister, if he is charged by court. Another point to discuss is that whether PM Gilani will lose his seat after the conviction or is there a way out in the constitution that is to be adopted. Senior Advocate Abid Hassan Manto expressed that the president has the authority to pardon the Prime Minister under the article 45, just like he did in the scenario of Rehman Malik. He added that even if the SC convicts PM and disqualifies him, Article 63 of the Constitution

regarding the disqualification from parliament would have to be used and most of all, the PM can appeal against the final decision of court. The peaceful interlude in Islamabad did not last long. By summoning Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to appear before it on Feb 13, the Supreme Court moved a step closer on Thursday to finding him guilty of contempt of the court. Dawn, February 3. On 3rd February while Barrister Aitzaz was counseling the seven member bench suddenly terminate the hearings and ordered an half an hour break to discuss the issue, because earlier justice Nasir ul Malik had said that court will hear the PM till the end of the day. Apparently what prompted the court not to proceed further was the failure in getting an assurance from the counsel that a letter would be written to the Swiss authorities by the government even if the court accepted Mr Gilanis argument that his earlier decision of not writing the letter was because of wrong advice given to him. On the other hand, Mr Ahsan argued the government would write the letter only if the court said so and, that too, after exhausting all legal remedies. When the bench reassembled it simply said that it had decided to frame contempt charges against the prime minister. In a last-ditch effort, Mr Ahsan sought at least 30 days time to file an intra-court appeal against the order, but the bench remained unconvinced. At first the bench decided to frame the charge on Feb 10, but at the insistence of the counsel it changed the date to Feb 13. Barrister Ahsan told reporters after the hearing that he would suggest to the prime minister to consider moving an appeal against Thursdays order. Section 19 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance V of 2003 says that an intra-court appeal will go before a larger bench and the appellate court may suspend the impugned order pending disposal of the appeal. If the order is not suspended by the appellate bench, Advocate Chaudhry Faisal Hussain said, the original bench which had framed the charge would continue with the hearing in contempt trial. Ironically, Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq, being the principal law officer, will compile the charges and prosecute the prime minister. Dressed in a dark suit, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani returned to the Supreme Court on a grey Monday morning so that charges of contempt of court could be framed against him. Dawn, February 14. The proceedings were short and were over in minutes. The order issued by a seven-judge SC bench was also short. Have you heard and understood the charge? Justice Nasirul Mulk, who is heading the bench, asked the prime minister. The prime minister uttered Yes. Do you plead guilty, Justice Mulk asked. No, the prime minister replied firmly.

Do you have any defence to make? the judge asked. I will give it in writing, the prime minister answered. Most of the time of court was spent on fixing the next date because Mr. Ahsan was busy and had other requirements to fulfill and he had to travel abroad, so he asked for a long date. Eventually the next date was set for Feb 22 when Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq was to exhibit evidence and provide a list of witnesses in the absence of Mr Ahsan. The prime minister was exempted from personal appearance at the next hearing. As Mr Gilani left the court premises, the charges were dissected and interpreted as legal experts began to foretell what the future may hold for him. Going through the language of the charge framed against the prime minister, I believe the prime minister cannot be disqualified, said Advocate Chaudhry Faisal Hussain while talking to Dawn. Prime facie, it appears as if the court has charged the prime minister with civil contempt instead of judicial or criminal contempt. This means that provisions of Article 63(1 g or h) of the Constitution do not apply to this particular case, he explained. Article 63(1 g) deals with the eligibility of candidates to stand for elections and be members of parliament; and those who are guilty of defaming or ridiculing the judiciary or compromising the integrity or independence of the judiciary are deemed disqualified. The prime minister has requested to include cabinet secretary Nargis Sethi, former law minister Babar Awan and law secretary Masood Chishti as witnesses in a reply submitted by his counsel Aitzaz Ahsan to the apex court. In the reply, Mr Gilani has requested the court to call the mentioned witnesses itself because as a prime minister he does not want to leave an impression of pressurizing the government officials to testify in his favor. He also requested to bring the summary in which the prime minister was advised by the apex court not to write letter to Swiss authorities for reopening graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari under National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). Defence and Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that no summary had been received from the law ministry about reopening graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari when she worked as principal secretary to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from Sept 23, 2010 to Jan 17, 2011. Dawn March, 8th. Appearing before a seven-member bench headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk hearing a contempt of court case against Mr Gilani, she acknowledged that two summaries had been received, one on May 21 and the other on Sept 23, 2010. According to the two summaries, then law minister Babar Awan and law secretary Pir Masud Chishti had informed the premier that there was no use of writing a letter to the Swiss authorities because the cases filed against President Zardari in Swiss courts had already been withdrawn. The summaries also said that the court orders were not implementable. It was also pointed out that the president was supreme commander of the armed forces and part of parliament.

Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel for Mr Gilani, defended his client by saying that the prime minister had acted on the advice in accordance with the rules of business, but said the advice might be wrong. Moreover the bench observed that Mr Ahsan could not cross-examine his own witness, but the counsel said he could prove that it was not a cross-examination. In a cross-examination you ask questions which are responded merely by saying yes or no. Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq raised an objection and said that Ms Sethi could testify only her own signature on the summaries and not of other persons. He said the summaries could be testified by the one who had prepared them. Ms Sethi told the court that the prime ministers engagements included everything listed in the rules of business and much more than that. Mr. Ahsan kept on posing questions and the court found many of them irrelevant. He, however, stressed that it was essential to bring certain things on record to make out a defense case. Nargis sethi told that prime minister is a busy person and during the time she served him he had meetings parliamentary sessions and number of foreign visits. Ms Sethi told the court that the prime minister did not have time to minutely go through all the files reaching him. On an average, he sees 1,000 files in a month. She actually wanted to prove that PM just acted upon the advice of law minister. In an unexpected twist the Supreme Court sent shivers down the spine of many in the government when it categorically stated that the contempt case against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would not overshadow the NRO verdict. Dawn March 9, 2012. After Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq had finished questioning Defence and Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi, he was asked by the bench to inform the prime minister that pendency of the contempt proceedings would not affect the implementation part. Regardless of any advice tendered to him by the secretaries, the prime minister as chief executive of the country should implement the directive contained in paragraphs 177 and 178 of the NRO judgment, the court said. The prime minister was required to submit a report about implementation of the judgment by March 21 when the court will resume hearing of the contempt case. The court noted that despite repeated directions and warnings, it appeared that its orders were not implemented which compelled it to issue a show-cause notice to the prime minister who stated that the direction was not implementable because the president enjoyed immunity. The court also asked Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, the counsel for Mr Gilani, that he could file a reply on behalf of his client. Otherwise, the prime minister himself could appear in person to testify and record his statement on March 21. ustice Nasirul Mulk told the council that if the prime minister wanted to file a written statement, he could file it with the registrar by March 19 and if he wished to appear in person he could do so on March 21. However, arguments would start on the day the court would meet.

The attorney general who is the prosecutor in the contempt case, asked Defence and Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi a number of questions. The secretary explained that important summaries were produced before the prime minister, like the summaries of May 21 and Sept 22, 2010, suggesting not to write a letter to Swiss authorities, were tabled before him in accordance with the rules of business and usual practice. Hundreds of references came to the prime ministers house, the secretary said, but only summaries were placed before him. She conceded that she did not make any query about the two summaries because she was not required to conduct inquiries. This, she added, was the job of the secretaries concerned. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said here on Sunday that he would be ready to resign if that would help resolve the issue of writing a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. Dawn March 19, 2012. Mr Gilani, who was talking to journalists at his residence, made the remarks in response to a suggestion that he should better resign to avoid a jail sentence in the contempt of court case or a death sentence for violating the Constitution (in case of writing the letter). Mr Gilani said he would be happy to resign and leave office if that would help resolve the issue. But I think whosoever replaces me will have to face the same dilemma as the core issue will remain there, he added. The prime minister said that time and again he had made it clear that he was not going to write the letter come what may. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani threw the ball back to the Supreme Court on Wednesday by requesting it to first settle the contempt matter and then raise the issue of implementation of the NRO verdict. Dawn March 22, 2012. he prime minister was specifically directed by the court to disregard the advice given by the secretaries concerned and implement the directive contained in paragraphs 177 and 178 in the NRO judgment. The court decided to hear the fresh reply by the prime minister on March 29, though further proceeding on the contempt matter was adjourned for Thursday that will continue on a day-to-day basis. The reply filed through the attorney general requested the court to undertake further proceedings on the NRO implementation case after completing the contempt matter. Although the contempt proceedings and the implementation case are different, yet the issue involves essentially and materially the same, it said. Barrister Ahsan insisted that the prime minister had not committed any contempt and still believed that the letter could not be written to the Swiss authorities as long as Asif Zardari was the president. For the time being, NRO verdict is not implementable because the president enjoys international protection against any criminal or civil case. We are not pleading for setting aside the NRO judgment or to review it but only highlighting that the presidents status is unique under the international law. The council also expressed lack of confidence in the bench and said that after making harsh observations against the prime minister by it in earlier orders, it would be difficult to get complete justice.

The counsel said the court could not punish the respondent on assumptions, adding that judges were also fallible and could make mistakes. He then referred to the Article 10-A added to the Constitution through the 18th Amendment and emphasized that fair trial which was now a fundamental right had been made mandatory. Are you trying to say that this bench after initiating the contempt proceeding is not competent to hear the matter, Justice Nasir asked. After making such harsh pre-trial opinion, the bench should not decide the case, Mr Ahsan replied. Justice Khosa went on to explain that the respondent could have been convicted of committing the contempt straightaway, but he had been given every opportunity. Trust us we are absolutely fair and impartial and trained to become dispassionate. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani may face yet another contempt charge in addition to the one he is already confronted with for not implementing the NRO verdict. Dawn March 30, 2012. 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 judiciarys court by requesting it to first settle the contempt matter and then raise the issue of implementation of the NRO verdict. The prime minister should not be looking around seeking advices instead of implementing the order, Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan said, adding that the prime minister wanted to expose himself to another contempt proceeding. Are our orders to be interpreted by the secretaries and the prime minister? Does the prime minister have the authority over and above the court of law? Justice Ijaz asked. Now the prime minister is aggravating the situation, Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed. We are afraid this is not the compliance of our earlier order of March 8, Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, who is heading the bench, said while dictating the order. Since there is no compliance we will pass an appropriate order on April 16, the order said. Todays hearing clearly shows that the court is heading towards issuing another contempt notice, said a senior counsel who wished not to be named. However, Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood was more specific. Not only can the Supreme Court issue a separate contempt notice, it can even appoint a commission or direct its registrar or any other senior government official to write the letter on behalf of the government to the Swiss authorities for reopening the cases. Mr Mehmood also said the prime minister in the existing contempt case did not face a serious threat because he was not hit by Article 63 (1 g) of the Constitution.

At present, Mr Mehmood said, the prime minister was facing a civil contempt in which he was not accused of ridiculing the judiciary. Therefore, prima facie this provision does not apply to this particular case, he said. But in case a fresh contempt was issued, he added, it could be a judicial contempt which was more serious than the existing one. While passing the fresh contempt charge, Mr Mehmood feared, the Supreme Court might also take stock of Mr Gilanis recent public addresses, especially the one in Mailsi in which he had publicly stated that he would opt for a six-month jail term for not implementing the court orders, instead of going to the gallows for committing violation of the Constitution. The legal experts have started to debate on whether the President can pardon Prime Minister, if he is charged by court. Another point to discuss is that whether PM Gilani will lose his seat after the conviction or is there a way out in the constitution that is to be adopted. Senior Advocate Abid Hassan Manto expressed that the president has the authority to pardon the Prime Minister under the article 45, just like he did in the scenario of Rehman Malik. He added that even if the SC convicts PM and disqualifies him, Article 63 of the Constitution regarding the disqualification from parliament would have to be used and most of all, the PM can appeal against the final decision of court. Furthermore, Senator S M Zafar proclaimed that the President could pardon the PM in case of jail sentence but the conviction will remain undamaged, thus the PM will be disqualified from the Parliament according to the procedure available in Article 63.