Three days into resuming hearing the NRO review appeal case, both the Supreme Court and the federation’s counsel Babar Awan are ‘confused’ about what exactly it is that the other wants.
Wednesday’s hearing witnessed an exchange of bitter and sweet – bitter words and sweet Urdu couplets between Awan and the judges. The chief justice finally told the counsel to conclude his arguments on Thursday morning.
The full-court bench of the SC, headed by Chief Justice Ifitkhar Muhammad Chaudhry, questioned whose right was impeached or what part of the verdict had adversely affected the federation.
“We are confused with the federation’s plea in this case,” the chief justice said, to which Awan replied: “I am confused with your judgment in this case”.
During the hearing, the bench said that a review petition’s scope is limited and therefore the counsel will not be able to win the case. “How can I win the case, I am alone against 17 judges?” Awan said. The former law minister contended that the federation’s petition was unique in its type as the court did not give an opportunity to the federation to plead its case. He said the federation’s grievance is that the ordinance was already cancelled because the parliament had not approved it within 120 days of its promulgation.
However, Awan insisted that the federation is not interested in the revival of the NRO. If it did, the president would have issued another ordinance and since the Pakistan Peoples Party is in majority the parliament would have approved it as well.
Referring to corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland, Awan said the accused cannot be punished in absentia and that is why closed cases cannot be reopened, adding that the SC cannot direct the federation to reopen cases abroad.
On this, the CJP said that the court is interested in recovering the looted money whether it is from abroad or within the country. Then the court must order to nullify all stay orders issued on the recovery of money inside and outside the country. There are stays on Rs1 trillion by different courts, he said.
“Mr Babar, we had summoned the FBR chairman and asked him to pursue cases of tax theft,” Justice Jawwad S Khawaja told Awan, adding that the FBR chairman was not an employee of the court. “You should not speak about matters which you have no knowledge about,” the bench told Awan, adding “You should limit yourself to arguing the petition.”
The chief justice reminded the counsel that the attorney general had submitted in writing that the federation does not want to plead the case.
Awan argued if AGP’s office is empowered to make a statement on behalf of the federation then it should be empowered to withdraw the statement too.
The court asked the counsel to conclude his arguments in Thursday’s hearing and adjourned the case.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2011.
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