Contempt of court act: Cautious govt seeks review of apex court ruling

Published: August 6, 2012
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President Zardari decides to ask for review;  no legal cover for PM once NRO implementation case is resumed. PHOTO: AFP

President Zardari decides to ask for review; no legal cover for PM once NRO implementation case is resumed. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Dropping the option of either re-enacting the defunct Contempt of Court Act or promulgating it through a presidential ordinance, a seemingly subdued government on Sunday decided to seek a review of the Supreme Court ruling on the law.

Following intense deliberations, President Asif Ali Zardari approved a plan to file a review petition against the apex court’s August 3 short order which declared the Contempt of Court Act, 2012 null and void.

The government also decided to file a similar petition against another apex court decision of July 12 in which Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was directed to write a letter to the Swiss authorities by August 8 for reopening a dormant graft case against the president.

The next hearing into the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case is due this week.

The president finalised the plan after consulting his political and legal aides over the weekend. The most significant of these interactions to brainstorm how the government should respond to the apex court was a meeting between President Zardari and Law Minister Farooq H Naek.

The weekend was a busy one for the president.

Hours after the court verdict on Friday night, Zardari had an intense round of consultations with leaders of political groups allied to his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government at the centre and in provinces. He also spent a hectic Saturday with key figures of what is known as a core legal team defending the government in several cases in the Supreme Court.

The outcome of these meetings was not shared with media officially, however, insiders said that the decision to file a review petitions in both the cases had been given approval by the president and his legal team was already preparing the draft.

“We are going to file a review petition against both the decisions. We think they are fundamentally flawed and contain many mistakes and there is room for correction,” a member of the government’s legal team told The Express Tribune.

Attorney General Irfan Qadir was even more aggressive in his remarks against the judiciary and its decisions.

“An opportunity can be given to the judiciary through the review petition to rectify the wrong it has done and restore its dignity and honour through its order,” he said while talking to a private television channel.

Asked why the options of re-enacting the same law with minor changes or promulgating it through a presidential order were not implemented, the member of the legal team said: “They are still on the table… But the thing is that we want to go step by step. We want to exploit everything available to us.”

But some other officials of the ruling party said the reason behind shying away from radically defiant options was a hesitant response from allied parties to support the idea of confronting the judiciary openly.

“None of the political associates were forthcoming with their backing for options Zardari sahib put on the table during Friday night’s meeting. That is why he decided to go for a milder plan,” said a federal minister who was briefed about the huddle.

It was still not clear whether the government would wait for the detailed verdict in the contempt case before filing the review.

The legal team’s member, however, said both the applications would be submitted before August 8 when Premier Ashraf is slated to respond to the court’s order of writing the letter to the Swiss authorities.

(Read: SC’s verdict on contempt law)

Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Asad Murtaza
    Aug 6, 2012 - 3:58AM

    This govt is incredible.

    While all the Pakistanis are enjoying sleepless-loadshedding-filled nights. When the country is in a 60-year-record debt, when there’s bloodshed all over Karachi & Balochistan – the top priority of this government is to call meetings with its crooked allies (ANP/MQM) deciding how to mess with the judiciary.

    They are clearly mocking Pakistanis with this attittude. Is this the Roti, kapra and makaan mandate that they deceived the public with?

    Mr. Zardari hasn’t appeared in a single public speech where he didnt chant his party’s ‘sacrifices’. This man clearly has no regard for the people’s opinion or wishes. Again, what would you expect from someone who instead of presenting himself in front of his country-men for any accusations about him, would rather say ‘ Im immune to any legal calls so you wont be able to do anything to me)’.

    It is the same man who used Malik Riaz and Now the new Joker Faisal Raza Abidi to defame honorable CJ.

    oh well, only a miracle will help rid Pakistan of these leeches.

    Recommend

  • naeem
    Aug 6, 2012 - 5:04AM

    What is happening to the running of the country.
    All this Governament is concerned about is how to protect and save this evil despotic corrupt man called Zaradri.

    Recommend

  • asma
    Aug 6, 2012 - 5:43AM

    “President Asif Ali Zardari approved a plan to file a review petition…” I note the President is still wearing two hats. He is either the President of Pakistan of the Chairperson of the PPP, NOT BOTH!

    Recommend

  • a&a
    Aug 6, 2012 - 6:27AM

    useless exercise. . . . !!!!

    Recommend

  • Caramelized_Onion
    Aug 6, 2012 - 8:44AM

    E.T., you call passing a law within hours of being tabled ‘cautious’?

    Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    Aug 6, 2012 - 10:49AM

    Now this has been PPP’s leaders’ main purpose to oppose and resist the Supreme Court’s this decision and furtively to secure Zardari from any prosecutions regarding his foreign bank accounts and assets by using any possible delaying tactics and lame excuses unless the PPP’s tenure is completed……..
    Very well done and very impressive Zardari you have army of loyal workers who are always ready to secure you from any prosecutions by giving all the sacrifices…….

    Recommend

  • Zabandraz
    Aug 6, 2012 - 1:04PM

    @Asad Murtaza:
    Not a miracle but voting sensibly by the youth of this Country!!! We all need a change. The youth should vote for someone honest!!!

    Recommend

  • Nadeem
    Aug 6, 2012 - 3:00PM

    We as a nation deserve this as we opted for it by giving the sentimental votes to PPP. The rulers have no regard for us as we have no regard for our votes. Keep voting them and they will keep treating you like animals. End of the story!

    Recommend

  • Sajjad
    Aug 6, 2012 - 8:48PM

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