PM contempt case: As Aitzaz pushes, court grumbles over ‘irrelevant queries’

Published: March 7, 2012

"Yes, I want to give Gilani a character certificate," PM Gilani’s counsel Aitzaz Ahsan.

ISLAMABAD: The hurdle was widely anticipated by the premier’s counsel, but was hurled at him nonetheless.

When defence counsel Aitzaz Ahsan attempted to cross-examine Defence and Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi on Wednesday, the seven-member bench hearing the prime minister’s contempt case said he could not – because she had been summoned as a defence witness, not a court witness.

Sethi, who has earlier served as the principal secretary to the prime minister, appeared as a witness in the case to present two summaries before the court.

The summaries stated that the then-law minister Babar Awan and the then-law secretary Masud Chishti had informed the premier that cases filed against President Asif Ali Zardari in Swiss courts were withdrawn and that there was no point in writing a letter to the Swiss authorities.

Aitzaz maintained that the summaries have been presented to prove that the prime minister had acted upon the rules of business.

The prime minister did not comply with the court order on National Reconciliation Ordinance case on the basis of these two summaries from May 21 and September 23, 2010.

When Sethi presented the summaries to the court, Justice Nasirul Mulk said they should have been submitted earlier to the Supreme Court Registrar.

The attorney general, however, objected to Sethi’s verification of the summaries.

“Nargis can only testify her own signature. In this hearing, she is attesting to other people’s signatures [in the summaries],” Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq said.

“Being a prosecution in the case, I have some reservations over the method with which [Aitzaz] is trying to carry the case,” the attorney-general added.

Cross-examination

When Aitzaz attempted to question Sethi, Justice Ijaz Chaudhry raised an objection, saying he could not cross-examine his own witness.

Justice Asif Khosa said the court “did not understand the purpose” behind Aitzaz asking Sethi questions.

“Do you want to give (Prime Minister) Gilani a character certificate?” asked Justice Khosa.

“Yes … my main motive is to tell the court what character the accused [Gilani] has,” Aitzaz replied.

Sethi informed the court that she had worked with a lot of people, but considered Gilani to be a very ‘mild-natured’ person. She said that Gilani’s engagements included some that come under rules of business and some that don’t.

Sethi also pointed out incidents highlighting the premier’s regard for the court and its verdicts.

The premier had ordered a probe into the forced eviction of then-sacked judge Justice Khalilur Rahman Ramday from his residence, and ordered that his belongings are returned, Sethi said.

She also cited the case of promotion of 54 federal secretaries which was reverted by the premier after a follow-up.

Justice Nasirul Mulk asked Aitzaz to inform the bench about the premier’s conduct in the NRO case.

“I will satisfy you in this regard on Thursday (today),” Aitzaz said.

The court adjourned the hearing till Thursday, saying most of Wednesday’s proceedings were “wasted with irrelevant questions by Aitzaz.”

Sethi will be cross-examined by the court today.

Meanwhile, Aitzaz, speaking to the media outside the Supreme Court, said Sethi is the most suitable witness in this case.

“Nargis has worked with the prime minister, so she can provide adequate proof of his character.”

Copies of Sethi’s statements will be provided to all respondents and if there are any objections, they will be presented before the judges on Thursday, he added.

Aitzaz said he felt he was not allowed to cross-examine the witness properly on Wednesday.

“I want to prove to the court that the prime minister is not in contempt,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Beatle
    Mar 7, 2012 - 10:32AM

    Its just waste of time.
    Playing with the nerves of nation.
    Decision to malign the government and Gilani is already made withing the Judges’ Union. Its just the matter of time to make it public.

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  • isloo
    Mar 7, 2012 - 11:49AM

    Such a pathetic reporting by ET, the bench is not headed by CJ, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry

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  • Pundit
    Mar 7, 2012 - 1:00PM

    The picture atop the article is of the PM whereas the article is all about Nargis Sethi!

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  • Hassan Aftab
    Mar 7, 2012 - 2:20PM

    the judges are clearly biased, which is obvious from their comments made during the proceedings. What a travesty of justice.

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  • sincere fellow
    Mar 7, 2012 - 2:53PM

    Oh, Pakistani’s for god sake!! quit being fooled around anymore by these drama’s or in other word’s should be called the strategies of wasting time legally and illegally by playing games.The politicians have taken the whole country in nose dive direction, and people are brutally being pressurized forcefully to live in circumstances where they can’t pay attention on other issues going on in the country,, like energy crisses(loadshedding,gas,petrol,diesel) and worst of all, is clean drinking water in rural areas of all provinces.I’m writing short because don’t want to go into details.

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  • Torrent
    Mar 7, 2012 - 3:13PM

    It’s March already! Does the SC realize that the cases will expire soon if they keep on giving so much leeway to Aitzaz Ahsan. These proceedings are a waste of nation’s time and money – just get the culprit!

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  • Ammar
    Mar 7, 2012 - 3:40PM

    The Judges are wasting courts precious time because they cannot substantiate their allegation on the PM. Today’s lawyers’ press conference should serve as an eye opener for them.

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  • Vaqar
    Mar 7, 2012 - 3:40PM

    @Beatle.

    How dare you make fun of the judiciary using those words. If it wasn’t for the Supreme Court the whole country would have been sold many times over.

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  • Ammar
    Mar 7, 2012 - 3:41PM

    If they (judges) are pursuing some agenda, they should come on the ground and start performing their duties immediately, if not sooner!

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  • A
    Mar 7, 2012 - 5:12PM

    If we can only change our then we can correct everything. We know “Halal risq aein ebaadat hai” but does not follow it. We do corruption, does not pay taxes, and always try to justify illegal things. There is a correct saying that “jaisi awaam wasay hokomran”.

    and by the way violence is not a solution, its a problem and we should have to correct this also.

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  • wahab afridi
    Mar 7, 2012 - 5:56PM

    aitizaz is doing his job if he can prove the PM honest then our incompetent judiciary shud shut up , indeed they are then wasting nations timeRecommend

  • Mar 7, 2012 - 6:06PM

    they just wanna delay the proceedings

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  • Imran
    Mar 7, 2012 - 6:43PM

    @Vaqar:
    How dare you make a comment like that. Top judges have sold the nation cheap many times over to the conquering generals, and then have taken oaths of allegiance to them. Stop distorting the facts.

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  • Farooq Khan
    Mar 7, 2012 - 7:08PM

    Judicial dictatorship and no where to appeal

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  • Mirza
    Mar 7, 2012 - 7:09PM

    @Imran:
    They have not just sold the nation many times to the general, but every time they had a chance to do so. Yet both the judges and generals took oath to uphold the constitution and protect it! In practice when they get the first chance to mutilate it, they go ahead and do it, and none is tried for treason. It can happen only in Pakistan with this regularity. If you tell the truth, their goons threaten you for being honest.
    Regards,
    Mirza

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  • Ali Tahir
    Mar 7, 2012 - 7:11PM

    The court is just wasting time and does not realize that justice delayed is justice denied. If the PM did not intentionally do the contempt of court then he should simply implement the order which is a standing instruction. There is no discussion invloved; it is either yes or no.

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  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)
    Mar 7, 2012 - 8:11PM

    @Hassan Aftab: Justice is that the PM should have be sent to Jail long time ago. Any poor Pakistani would have been in Jail by now. This is the Travesty of Justice.

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  • Naveen Shah
    Mar 7, 2012 - 8:23PM

    Writing a letter while knowing that the president has immunity according to Pakistani constitution and under International law is meaningless. What the PCO SC judges want is that by writing this meaningless letter PPP would self incriminate and provide the ammunition for future. In most democratic countries nobody can be forced to testify against themselves even in cases of blatant murders. Here is the Fifth Amendment from US constitution: “The Fifth Amendment protects witnesses from being forced to incriminate themselves. To “plead the Fifth” is to refuse to answer a question because the response could provide self-incriminating evidence of an illegal act punishable by fines, penalties or forfeiture”

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  • Mirza
    Mar 8, 2012 - 1:37AM

    Only a very rich foreign double agent who has been spitting venom has a right to waste the time of PCO SC, and three Chief Justices of high courts and get away with that. In fact the court has begged and chased him to to bless Pakistan with his written statement. Another low in the judicial history of Pakistan.

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  • MarkH
    Mar 8, 2012 - 6:25AM

    um, many courts do allow you to “cross examine” your own witness due to the other side’s carefully worded questions to get responses that fit what they want the jury to believe but will cut them off when they try to elaborate because they see what the lawyer is trying to pull with the question. Purposely messing up the context to make it mean/imply things that it doesn’t actually mean/imply.

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  • syed Imran
    Mar 8, 2012 - 11:30AM

    @ Mirza and all of PM supporters

    Is the PM a sacred cow. Why for him so much symphaties, he really doesnt deserve these.

    When a mother of three children commits suicide along with all her innocent children, just because she cannot feed them and the PM wastes millions & millions on his foriegn tours with huge entourages, do all of you symphatisers of the PM have a conscious to still support him?

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  • Hadi Ansari
    Mar 8, 2012 - 4:17PM

    With all due respect to SC,the outcome of the case will not compensate for the loss of valuable time of the court and taxpayers money.
    The defence counsil will issue the coveted character certificate to his client knowing fully well that his client/family defaulted on repayment of bank loans of Rs.580millions which was ultimately settled for a peanut during last few years.

    ,

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