An appeal to the conviction, if filed by the premier, will meet an incomplete bench.
“Three of the nine existing members of the bench cannot hear the case due to some reasons. If an appeal is filed, then we will have six judges remaining,” Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry told lawyers at the inauguration of a circuit bench of the Balochistan High Court (BHC) in Sibi. However, he refused to name the three judges.
Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani had abstained from the premier’s contempt case, saying that he was related to Gilani. Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali is suffering from a cardiac disease, while Justice Shakirullah Jan is also working as Acting Chief Election Commissioner and he might not sit on the appeal bench, sources told The Express Tribune.
Justice Chaudhry said that a seven-judge bench of the court had handed down judgment in the case – and if an appeal is filed a nine-member bench will hear it. For this purpose, he added, an additional judge and two ad-hoc judges would be appointed to complete the quorum. The chief justice has convened the judicial commission on May 7, and cited Articles 181 and 182 of the Constitution to support his argument.
On April 26, the apex court found Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani guilty of contempt for not writing a letter to the Swiss authorities to seek reopening of graft cases against the president.
The prime minister has said that he will file an appeal against the apex court judgment as, according to him, a law for contempt of court does not exist in Pakistan.
All graft cases dropped under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) introduced by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf stood reopened after the apex court nullified the controversial immunity law in a landmark ruling in December 2009.
Though most cases were reopened, the PPP-led government has so far been reluctant to reopen graft cases against President Zardari in Swiss courts saying that being head of the state he enjoys constitutional immunity.
Justice Chaudhry said that the people of Sibi, Nasirabad, Jafarabad, Dera Bugti, Bolan, Kohlu and Jhal Magsi will get justice at their doorsteps after the formation of the BHC circuit bench in Sibi.
He said the bench and bar are the hands of the judicial system. “I have always emphasised on better relations between the bench and the bar because an independent bar can set up an independent judicial system,” he said.
He added that the judiciary is making its utmost efforts to serve justice to the people of Balochistan.
(ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM ONLINE)
Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2012.