PM never denied following court orders: Aitzaz Ahsan

Published: March 21, 2012

Prime minister's lawyer says court orders should be based on evidences, not on guesswork. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

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.

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Reader Comments (47)

  • Khalid Munir
    Mar 21, 2012 - 10:38AM

    2 Appointments can not be prosecuted. The President and Chief Justice of pakistan

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  • QTa
    Mar 21, 2012 - 11:16AM

    Making of a mockery out of the constitution. This is very defaming for Pakistan.
    Sorry to say but the court shouldn’t have acted so actively if they were hit the back seat at this point.
    .
    All this drama for saving one individual.

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  • Spaniard
    Mar 21, 2012 - 11:25AM

    INSHALLAH MR Ahsin i hope you and your PM will know it soon….SC is very very lenient to you guys,otherwise what PM is saying is worth sending him to jail…..As a seasoned lawyer, you should condemned his statements…. but kiya karain PPP nai senate ka ticket bhi tu diya hai….

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  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 21, 2012 - 11:40AM

    Time to go into the slammer Mr. Gilani.

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  • Beatle
    Mar 21, 2012 - 11:43AM

    It no more remains the matter of law either Law or the Constitution, but purely that of Ego. The court has delivered (wrong) decision, and insist on to be complied with by hook or crook. On the other hand government has decided exactly the other way. The Judges Union has already made their mind to dis-credit the present regime. So, people, get ready for another severe crisis.

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  • Ahmad
    Mar 21, 2012 - 11:59AM

    What a joke!
    If there is still any shame and respect left, both the prime minister and the president should resign and go home.

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  • umair
    Mar 21, 2012 - 12:03PM

    These guys are comedians…. they think the public is a fool.

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  • Jade
    Mar 21, 2012 - 12:09PM

    Mr. Aitezaz tarnished his image by protecting Zardari. In fact, he just showed his true face. Mr. Aitezaz did not come out of his inactivity to speak for the rights of the people, but sprang into action to sheild the corrupt.

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  • Concerned
    Mar 21, 2012 - 12:29PM

    Shame on you Mr. Aitzaz, you just lost your respect.

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  • anoni
    Mar 21, 2012 - 12:34PM

    I don’t think this immunity stand. For once let suppose a person commit a fraud or murder and then by NRO(declared Null and void) he sits on an immunity seat.

    1st opinion: The seat allow immunity only to sitting person and the immunity doesn’t cover his previous doing. Hence , the case stand that he should be tried for his previous crime and not his current as the seat provide immunity.

    2nd opinion: As NRO is null and void this mean any benefit received are also null and void. The NRO created a virtual space where People with bad charachter got the oppurtunity to bypass the constitution and get elected. As null and void mean it never existed , hence, this mean any bypass exemption never exist so the people who were never eligible to hold position are not eligible and should be dismissed.

    Either way to me ,the case stand and all should be tried .so Please Mr Aitzaz stop being so selfish for yourself and think about Pakistan

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  • Mubasher Nazir
    Mar 21, 2012 - 12:35PM

    why 2 appointments can not be prosecuted?look at Hazrat UMAR…..if such poise personalities appeared for his justification then why not the corrupt president?Recommend

  • Parvez
    Mar 21, 2012 - 12:41PM

    In simpler words although he realises that the letter should be written, he thinks that the Constitution gives the President immunity and such writing the letter is wrong from that point of view. So the question arises ‘ If there is a Constitutional ambiguity, who resolves this ?’
    Is it not the Supreme Court ?

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  • M. R@fique Zakaria
    Mar 21, 2012 - 12:50PM

    PPP is black mailing all ally parties and its members. Aitzaz Ahsan is also being black mailed otherwise he is not the kind of person that he is today – protecting the most corrupt people of PPP. Ab is mulk ko na America, na Army aur na Judiciary bacha sakti hai. Sirf aur sirf Allah hee bacha sakta hai. Let us all pray for Pakistan.

    M. R@fique Zakaria
    Karachi.

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  • Mar 21, 2012 - 1:10PM

    I m sick of this memo, mehrangate, and contempt case

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  • rehman
    Mar 21, 2012 - 2:03PM

    chief justice said he’s sorry for taking outh under pco, excuse me? we never forgave you in first place, treason and subversion of constitution case should be filed against chief justice. judge ghalti kareen phir mafi mang leen aur phir khud hee apnay ap ko maaf bhi kar deen?kya bat hai

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  • A khokar
    Mar 21, 2012 - 2:13PM

    Flat refusal of Supreme Court orders to write a letter to swiss courts is not only an act unbecoming of this beleaguered PM Galani only but it willfully demonizing the apex court. It also adds to the Sensory Deprivation of society taking them down for a disaster

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  • pervaiz memon
    Mar 21, 2012 - 2:33PM

    Why we are in so hurry . An election is due in this year , zardari’s term is expire in 2013 . this is bright chance that PTI and Pml N will take majorty in assembly then they will arrest zardari and make strong case against him and hang him so simple . A slim chance of ppp to take majority but sack of argument if it will happen then court will reject zardari’s nomination paper for next term of president and he will be available to court . After all he face court 11 years. just give him break of 5 years i think he deserve break of 5 years .

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  • A. Khan
    Mar 21, 2012 - 2:46PM

    PM can deny all he wants but he has clearly been in contempt of a court order. Mr. Ahsan, you should know better as you are a very good lawyer and decent honest person. I would have liked to see you as PM or even President in this country. It is really unfortunate that you have associated yourself with this Zardari.Recommend

  • usman
    Mar 21, 2012 - 3:17PM

    Time to make an example out of him, not 6 months imprisonment, life time rigorous incarceration with severe financial penalty. This will ensure the PM following him dont dare repeat the same. I don’t expect, no matter how strong a jiyala he is, to be ready for that punishment. Otherwise all this will end in farce and the SC would continue to feel embarrassed and end up in constitutional lacunae.

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  • ehsan shah
    Mar 21, 2012 - 3:31PM

    I fully agree with the great liberator of the courts, Mr. Ali Ahmad Kurd who, standing before the very Supreme Court for whose independence he suffered a lot of torture and agony and arrests,
    said in an injured voice pointing towards the building that a “tamasha” was going on inside.
    Remember he had said two years ago that Pharaohs are sitting in the upper judiciary.

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  • Arsha Nasir
    Mar 21, 2012 - 3:31PM

    Aitizaz Ahsan sb saying quit right…they (Aitizaz, Zardari, Gilani & all others) are following Court Orders….SC needs to identify that “CourT” :)

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  • KiJ
    Mar 21, 2012 - 4:02PM

    Our politicians are so innocent:

    one said i don’t know how Rs 40 million got into my bank account…

    the other said, “degree to degree hoti hae, chahay asli ho ya naqli”…

    now the PM is saying he never said that he won’t follow court orders…

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  • Yahya
    Mar 21, 2012 - 4:08PM

    We all know the games….it is plain and simple…..zardari has looted country’s wealth and it should be returned Pakistan ASAP…….

    Everyone who abets him is also corrupt and is answerable to ppl of Pakistan.

    Of the 198 countries that Mr. Aitizaz talks about, nobody would remain a President if there was even a whiff of Mr. Zardari’s shenanigans…..a prime example is that of the German President – he resigned about two weeks even before a court could hear its case…..but Not in Pakistand and NOT MR. ZARDARI…….

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  • Saleem
    Mar 21, 2012 - 4:23PM

    Can Aitzaz Ahsan cite one Supreme Court order that Mr. Giliani has willing carried out? Fact is that Mr. Gilani has defied/challenged court every step of the way. He placed his cronies at high places and when Supreme Court tried to check their corruption or investigate them hen investigating officers were removed/transferred. He made highest court of the land a joke. If Prime Minister is allowed to make fun of the law then why should an ordinary citizen follow it?

    I am baffled at Aitzaz Ahsan that all along he maintained that Mr. Giliani should write the letter to Swiss court. Many of his interviews were on TV and can be replayed to refresh his memory. Now he has changed his tune. What wonders a Senate seat can do!

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  • Mar 21, 2012 - 4:32PM

    Everyone knows that these are time wasting tactics by Mr. Aitzaz. He knows and the PM knows what is coming to he PM and he desrves the punishment he will get.

    It is unfortunate that the PM has chosen confrontation and is pushing the country to an avoidable Constitutional crisis The President who has so many corruption allegations against him, PM rather than stand tall and uphold the constitution has chosen to be his lackey.
    All these futile arguuments will come to a naught and unless the PM decides to write a letter at the last minute, he will be found guilty. Rather than leniency, I hope the court gives him maximum punishment for palying with the court.Recommend

  • Syed
    Mar 21, 2012 - 4:35PM

    Presidential Pardon is for given to the President for actions as a President, not to cover up bad deeds when he was not the president. I think the law must be interpreted correctly. Crime is a crime. The criminal must be punished. All should be same under the law.

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  • Saleem
    Mar 21, 2012 - 4:42PM

    If Supreme Court declared NRO at ab initio then cases against everyone who got benefited from it reopens. That includes Mr. Zardari as well. In a civilized world, Mr. Zaradri would have resigned and got to court to clear his name. But in Pakistan immunity drama is being played to protect one person, Mr. Zardari, rather respecting law of the land.

    In this drama, PPP is not alone. It’s so called allies in government are equally responsible of making mockery out of court orders as without their tacit support neither Mr. Zardari nor Mr. Giliani can play immunity drama.

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  • Mar 21, 2012 - 5:45PM

    Well the Drama Continues, stay tuned for the next episode.

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  • ishrat salim
    Mar 21, 2012 - 5:56PM

    This is the only democratic country in the world where the accused ( whoever he might be from the govt )do not hv any moral conscience to resign & then fight accusations but in Pakistan it has become part of our political & bureaucratic culture not to resign – come what may.

    Till few weeks back ( before appointment of Mr Ahsan as counsel for PM )he was of opinion that the govt shud write to Swiss authority but after his appointment look at Mr Ahsan`s U turn…he has lost all respect within the legal fraternity & the common public.

    Mr Ahsan is making sure that the PPP govt becomes ” political martyrs “.

    The best part is, PM has taken oath to safeguard interest of Pakistan, but he is safeguarding his President….do such politicians deserve any kind of sympathy ?Recommend

  • ali
    Mar 21, 2012 - 6:01PM

    IA Allah will deliver justice soon. This rotten system will soon collapse and all liars and looters will be punished. At that time no one will have immunity.

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  • Ammad Malik
    Mar 21, 2012 - 6:16PM

    Article 248 of the constitution:

    “248. Protection to President, Governor, Minister, etc.
    (1) The President, a Governor, the Prime Minister, a Federal Minister, a Minister of State, the Chief Minister and a Provincial Minister shall not he answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions:
    Provided that nothing in this clause shall be construed as restricting the right of any person to bring appropriate proceedings against the Federation or a Province.

    (2) No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or a Governor in any court during his term of office.
    (3) No process for the arrest or imprisonment of the President or a Governor shall issue from any court during his term of office.
    (4) No civil proceedings in which relief is claimed against the President or a Governor shall be instituted during his term of office in respect of anything done by or not done by him in his personal capacity whether before or after he enters upon his office unless, at least sixty days before the proceedings are instituted, notice in writing has been delivered to him, or sent to him in the manner prescribed by law, stating the nature of the proceedings, the cause of action, the name, description and place of residence of the party by whom the proceedings are to be instituted and the relief which the party claims.”

    Decide yourself.

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  • Mohsin
    Mar 21, 2012 - 6:30PM

    Keep the public hungry and uneducated and they will vote you in again and again.The sheep that they are….

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  • Very 1
    Mar 21, 2012 - 6:46PM

    AA is a cool, gutsy guy. Hats off to you, Sir. I wish Imran Khan was capable of enticing him that would’ve been a dream team.

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  • saif
    Mar 21, 2012 - 7:25PM

    I am not a lawyer nor a student of it at all but one thing i remember of constitution is that no law or sect against islam will be tolerated in the country. Now guess how can anyone be immuned as islam consider all to be equal.

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  • Javed
    Mar 21, 2012 - 7:37PM

    Comparing USA to our judiciary is an insult to our entire nation. USA is a very weak country, they are unable to break even a dot from their constitution where as we are able to break whole constitution without any fear or consequences. Our Supreme Court judges are made of whatever you can say, they are more powerful than parliament while USA judges are made of their parliament so they are weak to refute any clear constitutional matter. USA judges only interpret where there is doubt on any constitutional matter but our brave judges can ask the PM to break the constitution otherwise go to jail. In short you cannot compare as USA judges don’t have any ego while ruling on any case while our judges’ ego is made of steel.

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  • Bilal
    Mar 21, 2012 - 7:38PM

    These Supreme Court judges have sided with the general abrogating the constitution and taking fresh oath under his PCO. These judges have not brought any general to the court for multiple acts of high treason in its entire history. However, according to them the slap is worse crime than even a blatant murder by security forces. Worst crime than mutilation and constitution? In Pakistan and other countries people fight every day. However, in no country the SC has time to spare to grab every opportunity of slaps and punches thrown. Too many judges too much time and too much power to make their own choices.
    This case should have been sent to a lower court and have them try it out and punish the culprit to max according to the law. The Supreme Court is an appeals court and should not try every little crime at will.

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  • Saeed
    Mar 21, 2012 - 7:43PM

    Mr. Aitzaz you have lost all your credibility and respect you earned earlier from the innocent people. You have gone that far to defend a corrupt tola just for a senate seat , some sort of sitara and millions of people’s money. What happened to your hero like lectures, poetry and an angle like face on the TVs….It is unbelieveable . you are just another typical PPP leader… thats itRecommend

  • curious1
    Mar 21, 2012 - 8:42PM

    Bravo Mr. Prime Minister and the defending team especially Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan. Don’t be intimidated because of being bullied.

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  • Syed Shah
    Mar 21, 2012 - 8:45PM

    @Ammad Malik:
    But when it relates to action not done while holding position it shall not apply. Like Musharraf may enjoy immunity against any prosecution say in case of Akbar Bugti. His actions were as President of the country, in office, in the best interests of the country. But Zardari’s case pertains to cases much before he became the president. So I do not think he can enjoy immunity. I think CJ of SC agrees with me.

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  • u liar
    Mar 21, 2012 - 11:10PM

    The rational behind presidential immunity in the constitutional scheme of countries is to protect the President and subsequently the entire body politic from political instability and disruption which may arise as a result of criminal proceeding instituted by an individual with malafide intention. The question is not to protect zardari , but to keep the impunity of the Office. If this immunity is not recognized anyone in the country will be free to institute a case against the president, and consequently, much of the time of the President will be spent in clearing himself, And the entire population of the country will live in an atomosphere of uncertainty.

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  • ali
    Mar 22, 2012 - 12:35AM

    the immunity the government is much referring too can be eliminated if the supreme court says so inter nation law states this too……… examples are there at the current time period South Africa and Germany. where as the cases that the supreme court is asking to be opened are not only based on the president he is just a party to the case because he was the part of the company being blamed for the corruption. excluding him open it for rest of the people involved in it but that won’t be done either for the partners to the company are know dead in full terms and Mr. president is the only living owner of that company along with Ms. Sanam bhutto and the two Benjamin Bhutto Z sisters tagged with Mr. Chairman…….
    Mr Aitzaz U HAVE FINISHED UR SELF IN THE PUBLIC EYE…….. turns out u are a pure born bread greedy politician like all others present in and out of the parliament side by side with Mr. Ex doctor Awan and Dr. Fluffy hear Malik

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  • Amjad
    Mar 22, 2012 - 1:10AM

    Aitezaz Ahsan is on the right side of history.

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  • hussain ifzal
    Mar 22, 2012 - 2:03AM

    Unfortunately it seems that most of the readers who have posted their comments have not studied the costitution which is clear from their comments.They are just talking about the corruption of the government which is totally irrelevent in the present scenerio i.e.the contempt proceedings against the P.M.Article248 is very clear about the immunity of the President while in office.I dont understand why the reader’s are so impatient like the S.C. and cannot wait for the President to complete his tenure.If the S.C.thinks that the President does not enjoy immunity why does’nt it take Sou Motu notice of any activity of the President, convict him and send him to jail,after all the THE MOST HONEST citzens of Pakistan i.e.the judges of S.C.have on more than one occasion called Mr. Zardari a dishonest man.

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  • hashmi
    Mar 22, 2012 - 2:30AM

    @Ammad Malik: All waging tongues here should shut up now.

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  • Ammad Malik
    Mar 22, 2012 - 11:38AM

    @Syed Shah

    “(2) No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or a Governor in any court during his term of office.”

    Point 2 gives blanket immunity against ‘criminal proceedings’ for 2 people as long as they hold office.

    What you are referring to us covered in point 1 after which further protection is provided to the President and Governor, leaving out ” Prime Minister, a Federal Minister, a Minister of State, the Chief Minister and a Provincial Minister” with protection only as per clause 1.

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  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Mar 22, 2012 - 7:35PM

    It is only after the suitable amemdment in the constitution PM and Prrsident could be punished . SC is very clrar in this respect even then trying to befool the public

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  • Syed Shah
    Mar 29, 2012 - 6:16PM

    @Pakistan politics: Tell this to Mr. Nawaz Sharif who is very fond of making cases against opponents. He made all cases against PPP and wasted so much of judiciary time for decades. Now he is doing the same with memo case. Wants to hang Musharraf too forgetting that he spared his life. He was otherwise to be hanged.

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