Hearing a contempt petition against the president holding dual offices, the Lahore High Court Chief Justice asked the petitioner to come up with arguments on whether contempt proceedings could be initiated against someone for not following a declaratory order of the court.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial earlier remarked that it was “pathetic” to think that the head of state would violate the constitution. He pointed out that a full bench of the High Court had, on March 12, 2011, only commented that the president should not indulge in political activities or use the presidency for such purposes. A restraining order was not passed, observed Justice Bandial. “Prima facie the president has not committed contempt of court,” he added.
Advocate Muhammad Azhar Siddique has filed the contempt petition, saying that President Asif Ali Zardari was committing contempt of court for holding two offices – president and Pakistan Peoples Party chairman – and was involved in political activities in violation of an LHC order.
Siddique said that President Zardari had neither disassociated himself from political office as had been hoped by the court. He said the directions of the court had not been obeyed nor had the president stopped using the Presidency for political purposes.
He said the president had called over the National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza and had congratulated her for supporting “convicted” Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani and “discarding” a Supreme Court judgment. This action, he said, confirmed the president’s bias as the leader of a political party. The ruling party was adamant not to obey the orders of the courts of Pakistan, he said.
He prayed that the president be issued a show-cause notice, be charged, convicted and sentenced for contempt of court as provided for in the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 read with Article 204 of the Constitution.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2012.