Just the beginning: What now for the PM?

Published: February 14, 2012

Contempt charges is the formal start of a prosecution that might take weeks or even months to conclude. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

The indictment of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on contempt charges is the formal start of a prosecution that might take weeks or even months to conclude.

Contrary to the perception that the PM would be convicted and sent to jail directly from the Supreme Court after the framing of charges, the seven judge bench merely formally announced the charge on Monday.

At this first stage, the court officially told the PM that he deliberately flouted and disregarded the direction of the court given in paragraph 178 of the NRO verdict, regarding writing a letter to Swiss authorities.

The court told the PM that he was legally bound to obey the order. In defying it he committed contempt of the court, which is a punishable offence under article 204 (2) of the Constitution. Therefore the court told him that he will be tried on this charge.

Justice (Rtd) Tariq Mehmood said that the charge sheet is formal in nature and no harsh language was used against the PM in the charge sheet. He also said, however, that it will have to be seen what section or sections of Article 63 of the Constitution the court will apply in its verdict.

He said at this stage the court has told the PM of the accusations against him and that he has the right to defend himself against the charge. As per the legal procedure, the attorney general, being a prosecutor in this case, will submit evidence against the PM in court.

The court will then scan the evidence and ask the defendant to file his reply over the evidence, either accepting it or rejecting it. Then, on the next stage after hearing the defense counsel, the court will announce its verdict.

The defendant will still have right to file an appeal against the final verdict. The appeal will be heard by not less then eight judges and, if rejected, there is no further right of appeal and the court will direct the authorities to implement the verdict in letter and spirit.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2012.

Reader Comments (3)

  • Feb 14, 2012 - 8:51AM

    An impression given by the story that the Supreme Court showed some magnanimity by not convicting the Prime Minister and sending him to jail immediately is wrong. The Court was bound to do what it did i.e. frame the charge and give the accused time to formulate his defence. So far it is only a charge and even after the prosecution brings in the evidence the accused too will have the chance to rebut that evidence by his own evidence by producing documents and producing witness if necessary. Magnanimity and grace are things of the past so far as our present Supreme Court is concerned and especially if a democratic government is concerned. Grace and largesse are reserved for others.
    It needs also to be mentioned that, on the evidence before us, it is wrong to say that “Then, on the next stage after hearing the defense counsel, the court will announce its verdict.” In all likelihood there will be no next stage but the order might already be ready before that ‘next stage.

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  • Khalid Javed
    Feb 14, 2012 - 11:26AM

    How many Hamlets (Ref Shakespeare’s play Hamlet) we have in our judicial system’s top layer? Delay, delay and again delay.

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  • Feb 15, 2012 - 12:34AM

    Its simple elections will follow after his removalRecommend

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