The counsel for former law minister Senator Babar Awan filed an application in the apex court on Monday seeking exemption for his client from personally appearing in the contempt case against him.
Advocate Ali Zafar contended in the petition that Awan will be undergoing medical checkups in India till April 17 and hence should be exempted on the medical grounds from appearing before the court.
Contempt of court adjudication was initiated by the Supreme Court after Awan criticized an apex court verdict handed down on December 1, 2011, pertaining to the formation of a judicial commission to probe the Memogate scandal.
Legal experts believe the court cannot indict a contemnor in absence, adding that a plea for exemption from appearing before the court in the case appears to be unjustified. However, legal experts say it is at the discretion of the court to allow or reject the application.
Awan has successfully delayed conviction in the case on three previous occasions. A close associate of Awan told The Express Tribune that the former law minister was “not in hurry like Aitzaz Ahsan to receive conviction from the court”.
The last hearing was adjourned till April 10, due to the absence of Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq.
Meanwhile, the legal wing of Pakistan Peoples Party, Rawalpindi chapter, on Monday suspended Awan’s membership for ‘deserting his party in times of need’.
The general secretary of the Peoples Lawyers Forum (PLF), Asad Abbasi, announced the decision of the executive body on Monday, saying Awan’s membership has been suspended.
Talking to The Express Tribune Advocate Abbasi said he had conveyed the decision to the PLF Punjab chapter, alleging that when Awan served as law minister, he only rewarded his blue-eyed lawyers while ignoring diehard PPP loyalists.
“As law minister he always tried to create rifts among the PPP’s legal wing and nourished his own group.” Advocate Abbasi further said that Awan ditched the party at a time he was needed the most.
Awan, once a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari, has seemingly been sidelined after he reportedly refused to appear in court as a witness in favour of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani in the NRO implementation case.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2012.