ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani never said that he won’t follow court orders, but he cannot comply with them during Zardari’s presidential tenure, said Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan while representing Gilani in the contempt of court case on Wednesday.
Aitzaz, reiterating his stance in the case, told the seven-member bench of the Supreme Court that Gilani cannot write a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari – as ordered earlier – because the president enjoys immunity.
Presenting his arguments, Aitzaz said that the president enjoys immunity in 198 countries according to Article 248 of the Constitution.
Aitzaz maintained that the court initiated proceedings against the prime minister ‘all of a sudden’, as earlier the law secretary was ordered to write the letter, not the prime minister.
He also said that the attorney general should have been a witness to the case today instead of being the prosecutor.
Aitzaz told the court that the order passed on January 10, 2011, was in such “harsh language” that now the bench does not have the authority to hear the case. The bench responded by saying that the case is always heard by the bench who issues the contempt notice.
Aitzaz added that the court’s order should be based on evidences and proofs rather than on guesswork, but the bench replied that Aitzaz should not even think that the proceedings would go against the law.
The lawyer maintained that the court can commit mistakes as well, just like any other person present in the courtroom.
The hearing was adjourned till tomorrow (Thursday) and the case will be heard every day from 9:30-11am.
PM’s punishment cannot be of more than six months: Aitzaz
Aitzaz, speaking to the media after the contempt hearing, said that Prime Minister Gilani’s punishment cannot be of more than six months.
“In the January 10 order, a life term and a five-year imprisonment were also discussed but I don’t personally accept it. I believe the court will review it,” he remarked.
Narrating an example of Indian minister A Raja who is currently serving jail after being found involved in corruption worth millions of rupees the knowledge of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s staff.
“But their Supreme Court said that the prime minister has so many engagements that even if his closest officer knew about the corruption, it could not be proved in the court that the prime minister also knew.
“Similarly, four documents have been submitted to the court in this case as evidences which imply that the prime minister did not have any knowledge of the court orders,” stated Aitzaz.
The court wondered if Prime Minister Gilani even read the newspapers, so I advised the bench that even they should not listen to the media and pass a verdict only based on the submitted documents, Aitzaz added.
“These are the complete files; they can hang me over it if they wish.”
The Supreme Court had initiated contempt proceedings against Gilani after the government refused to write a letter to Swiss authorities in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case.