Presidency meeting: Will a resolute govt re-introduce contempt law?

Coalition partners urge filing an appeal against SC decision to strike down Contempt of Court bill.

Irfan Ghauri August 03, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The ruling party will not back down – and intends to counter the striking down of the contempt act 2012.

If reports are to be believed, a meeting held at the Presidency to discuss the situation following the apex court’s verdict late Friday night has talked of reintroducing the contempt law with a few modifications in the next couple of days.

According to sources, the ambitious proposal foresaw the bulldozing of the law through parliament before August 8 – when Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf could be charged with contempt by the Supreme Court in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case for not complying with court orders regarding writing a letter to the Swiss authorities.  Another participant confirmed that this option was being discussed. It was also added that the option of promulgating an Ordinance could also be taken given the short period of time available.

While these reports were source-based, the meeting did issue a strong-worded statement declaring that the ruling alliance would resist any move to undermine the supremacy of parliament. “The meeting expressed its resolve that the right of parliament to legislate will be upheld and this right will not allowed to be compromised no matter what the odds and the cost,” said presidential spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar.

The spokesman did not mention decision of the court directly, the reference was clear. “The power to legislate under the Constitution belongs to elected representatives alone, the meeting reiterated unequivocally,” said the presidential spokesman.

Little could be known about what other contingency plans the allies have chalked out. The meeting was still under way at the time of filing of report.

Before this statement, senior leaders of the ruling alliance were reluctant to give their reaction. On his way to the meeting at the Presidency, Haji Adeel of ANP did tell The Express Tribune: “we are happy that the judges are united and they give unanimous decisions, especially when it comes to cases against our ruling coalition.”

Chaired jointly by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, the meeting was attended by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel, Senator Afrasiab Khattak, Dr Farooq Sattar, Senator Babar Khan Ghouri, Senator Abbas Khan Afridi, Munir Khan Orakzai and Hameedullah Jan Afridi.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2012.

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