President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday signed into law a newly approved bill aimed at providing blanket immunity to all public office holders against contempt of court – a move that will have a direct bearing on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case.
The president, who has 30 days to sign any bill after approval by both houses of parliament, did not waste much time and put his signature on the draft after overnight passage by the Senate.
President Zardari gave assent to the bill hours before a five-member bench of the Supreme Court resumed hearing in the NRO implementation case. The Supreme Court might use contempt of court charges to disqualify Premier Ashraf.
Under the new Contempt of Court Bill 2012, if an accused or convict of contempt of court files an appeal, the order will remain suspended till the final disposal of the matter. The law also states: “An accused person may also at any stage submit an apology and the court, if satisfied, may discharge him or remit his sentence.”
A couple of petitioners have already challenged the law in the apex court – and it remains to be seen how the court reacts to the new law.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2012.
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