The Supreme Court made it clear that the prime minister would face consequences if he failed to appear before the court on August 27 with a “positive statement” regarding its order in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) judgment implementation case.
However, the court promised to “accommodate” the premier if a commitment was given on the day he appears.
A five-member bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, was hearing a petition moved by the federation seeking a review of the court’s July 12 order, through which it had directed Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to write a letter to Swiss authorities asking them to reopen graft cases against the president.
In a rare move, Law Minister Farooq H Naek himself approached the apex court on Thursday along with Attorney General Irfan Qadir to seek more time in order for the government to devise a plan regarding writing a letter to the Swiss authorities.
The court, however, turned down Naek’s request to postpone the hearing of the NRO case later than August 27, saying it would only be possible if the premier made a positive commitment that day.
“If the gentleman whom we have issued notice to, and whom we have great respect for due to his office, appears and makes a positive statement, we will certainly accommodate him; and if he fails to do so, then the law will take its course,” Justice Khosa said. The judge also told the law minister that “there will be no problem if he (the prime minister) utters two positive words.”
Justice Khosa reiterated the court’s stance, saying: “We have only issued direction in para 178 (of the NRO judgment) and stated that the status of Pakistan as damaged civil party be revived, we did not add anything, we did not mention the president or the prosecution, we do not want anything more than what we have written, we do not know why this exaggeration is going on; problem arises in the absence of commitment, we cannot terminate the proceedings you (the federal government; attorney general and law minister) can consider to withdraw the review if you feel that things are going in another direction.”
The law minister told the court that the government does not want to drag the matter or imply delaying tactics, adding that a decision cannot be taken by one man.
“I am very confident that if this case is adjourned till the first week of September, something very positive will come out of it,” Naek insisting.
He added that with Eid around the corner, the government does not have enough time for deliberation on the issue. “We want to appear before the court with some understanding,” he said.
After consulting other members of the bench, Justice Khosa told the law minister that this bench was different from the implementation bench, and could, therefore, not change the date.
Meanwhile, the federal government seemed to be willing to reconsider its review petition against the court’s July 12 order.
During Thursday’s hearing, the attorney general told the court to put the decision on the review on hold, as he was seriously considering withdrawing it.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan remarked it would not create any impediment in the hearing of the main case. Justice Khosa observed that if the prime minister appeared before the court in the NRO proceedings, the review could become anfractuous.
Giving details of his meeting with Prime Minister Ashraf on Wednesday, Attorney General Qadir told the court that there was a genuine desire on part of the government to resolve the issue once and for all.
“We have taken serious deliberations, and have decided to take into confidence others who were not available yesterday,” Qadir said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2012.
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