ISLAMABAD: The apex court has had enough of the federal government’s ‘shenanigans.’
In a sternly-worded order against non-implementation of its verdict in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case, the Supreme Court on Tuesday warned the president and the prime minister of a possible disqualification.
A five-judge bench also reminded Law Minister Maula Bux Chandio that it could show him the door along with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani for dragging his feet on implementing the NRO verdict.
“Obedience to the command of a court, and that too of the apex court of the country, is not a game of chess or a game of hide-and-seek,” the bench stated.
It said the executive had been delaying the implementation of the NRO verdict for over two years now and that the court, on the other hand, kept exercising restraint and showed magnanimity.
The court noted that the president’s recent interview and the prime minister’s speeches reflected that their political affiliations were above their oath to protect, preserve and defend the Constitution.
The bench formulated six options for itself to exercise in case the executive failed to implement the court order before January 16, the next date of hearing.
Option 1: Disqualification
Reading out the nine-page order inside the courtroom, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa imputed dishonesty to the prime minister for failing to keep his oath on protection of the Constitution. Elaborating upon the prime minister’s role, the bench said Article 190 made it obligatory upon him to comply with the Supreme Court’s verdict in letter and spirit.
The bench said it has the option of recording adverse findings against the prime minister, which could permanently block him from getting elected as a member of Parliament. The president and the law minister also seem to have breached their oaths too and could very well share the fate of the prime minister, the court stated.
Option 2: Contempt proceedings
The bench said the prime minister and the law minister could face contempt proceedings for “persistently, obstinately and contumaciously resisting” to implement the judgment. A possible conviction may entail a disqualification from being elected as a member of parliament for five years, the bench warned.
Option 3: Commission implements NRO
Highlighting its powers under Article 187, coupled with the Supreme Court Rules, 1980, the bench stated that it may appoint a commission to execute the relevant parts of the NRO judgment.
Option 4: Claim immunity
Referring to protection to the president, the prime minister and the federal minister under Article 248 of the Constitution, the bench said anyone claiming immunity should raise it before the court. “…If anybody … wishes to be heard on that question then an opportunity may be afforded to him in that respect before exercise of any of these options,” the bench held.
Option 5: Action against NAB chief
The bench observed that the NAB Chairman Fasih Bokhari defied court directions on taking action against those responsible for appointing Ahmed Riaz Sheikh as additional director FIA, and Adnan A Khwaja as managing director OGDCL. While appointing them, the authorities had ignored the fact that their convictions stood restored after the court ruled against the NRO.
Besides, the chairman did not take any action against former attorney general Malik Muhammad Qayyum, who had misused his authority in writing a letter to the Swiss authorities for withdrawal of cases against the president. The bench said chairman’s inaction fell in the ambit of misconduct and attracted the provisions of NAB ordinance on removal from office.
Option 6: Leave it to the people
In sharp contrast to its other options, the bench said it could leave the matter up to the judgment of the people or their representatives in parliament to deal with the delinquents.
The full verdict can be read here.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2012.