ISLAMABAD: The ratchet, it appears, will continue to turn.
With the memogate affair already lingering over his head, the Supreme Court has asked President Asif Ali Zardari to submit a report on the implementation of its verdict against the National Reconciliation Order (NRO).
The memo circulated on Wednesday by the apex court also asked the prime minister to submit a report in the case, which is scheduled for hearing in the first week of January.
The court had not asked either of the two to submit reports in its previous implementation proceedings.
Provincial governors, chief secretaries, advocates general, the attorney general and registrars of the high courts, including those of the Islamabad High Court, have also been asked to submit reports. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman, its prosecutor general and the secretaries for the ministry of interior, law, justice and parliamentary affairs, the Cabinet Division and the Establishment Division have been asked to state the progress on the implementation as well.
The court has also directed all prosecutor generals, home secretaries and inspectors general to submit their reports in the case.
The NRO implementation case has mainly revolved around writing a letter to the Swiss authorities for re-opening graft cases against President Zardari. The chief justice also emphasised upon retrieving $60 million from the Swiss banks, which was seized after the case began in Switzerland.
In its short order released on December 16, 2009, the Supreme Court ordered the federal government to proceed against former attorney general Malik Muhammad Qayyum by declaring his acts of addressing various authorities/courts in foreign countries, including Switzerland, ‘unauthorised, unconstitutional and illegal’.
The court had noted that no order or authority could allow the former attorney general to address unauthorised communications, and thus, Qayyum’s conduct had resulted in the unlawful abandonment of claims by the Pakistani government of huge amounts of the allegedly laundered money lying in foreign countries, including Switzerland.
The government neither took any action against the former attorney general, nor did it write a letter to the Swiss authorities. Although government functionaries had been saying in private that the president enjoyed constitutional immunity, they never cited that reason before the Supreme Court for not writing the letter.
They feared that the apex court would interpret article 248 of the constitution, which protects the president against litigation, and subjects him to the Swiss cases. The federal government had also been delaying the implementation on account of the review petition – filed in March 2010 – that remained pending before the court for almost two years.
One of the reasons the court did not take up the review petition was because it fell short of the judges strength required for taking up a review petition. As soon as the federal government filled the vacancies, the chief justice formed the bench and took up the review petition against the NRO verdict.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2011.
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