LAHORE: The president enjoys immunity in the same way as chief justices of superior courts, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan has said.
“If someone were to move a petition against the chief justice of Pakistan or of the Lahore High Court, registrar offices of both the courts will not accept these petitions because cases cannot be filed against chief justices,” said Aitzaz, who is Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s counsel in the contempt proceedings before the Supreme Court.
Further, he said, the chief justices will not need to approach any court to seek immunity. “Likewise, the president does not need to move a court to seek immunity,” he said, speaking to lawyers at the Lahore High Court premises on Monday.
Aitzaz said that the issue of writing letters to Swiss authorities is irrelevant as, under Article 248 of the Constitution, the president of Pakistan enjoys complete immunity not only in Pakistan but also in Switzerland, hence by not writing the letter under the said article, the prime minister has not committed contempt of court. He reiterated his stance that the letters can be written once President Zardari’s tenure ends.
No holds barred on Justice Ramday
Once a leading figure in the Movement for the Restoration of the Judiciary, Aitzaz had rubbed shoulders with the ones he castigated for doing ‘politics’ now. Expressing displeasure of Justice (retd) Khalilur Rehman Ramday’s public statement on presidential immunity, he said that if Ramday wants to dabble into politics, he should do it openly.
“I respect Ramday but I feel sorry for him. He is the author of the National Reconciliation Ordinance judgment and has put his honour at stake. He should have not spoken on a subjudice matter,” Aitzaz said, adding that Ramday was still under a two-year mandatory post-retirement embargo which means that he cannot speak on the matter. Ramday, he said, was becoming partial.
Representing the PM
Aitzaz said that he had become the prime minister’s counsel on certain conditions. “I have asked the PM that government officials will stop spewing venom against the Supreme Court. And that the PM will not lead a political procession to the SC. Both conditions were honoured.”
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