The Supreme Court’s order in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case on Thursday triggered a fresh round of legal debate regarding the fate of the premier, and the role that the controversial new contempt legislation will play in saving him from disqualification. Former chief justice Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui and another retired Supreme Court judge Justice Wajihuddin are on the same page about new contempt of court (CoC) law.
The new CoC ordinance has no base, said Justice Siddiqui, adding that the provision of immunity to political elites is not available in the constitution (except for the President in article 248 of the constitution). He maintains it will be struck down as such. “The new CoC ordinance is in conflict with Article 8 of the Constitution which elaborates equal treatment of all citizens”, said Justice (retd) Wajihuddin. He added that “the new ordinance is a sub-constitutional law whereas article 204 is a constitutional law”.
Barrister Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan avoid commenting on the situation when contacted. However, when asked as to why the new premier had not yet hired a counsel, he replied no lawyer was needed at this stage since PM Ashraf had not been summoned to court yet.
Dr Basit, Ahmad Riaz Sheikh’s counsel in the NRO implementation case, said the court will not linger on the proceedings and might disqualify PM Ashraf on the next date if he disobeys its order like his predecessor.
Salman Akram Raja, Dr Mubashir Hassan’s counsel in the NRO case, maintained that the court’s fresh order clearly depicts the judiciary’s inflexible mindset in this case. The letter will have to be written at all cost, therefore, he added. Regarding the new CoC ordinance, Raja said that, according to the procedural part of the new ordinance, PM Ashraf will have the right to appeal against the first show cause notice.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2012.