LAHORE: A full bench of the Lahore High Court on Wednesday directed the counsel for federation of Pakistan to appear before the court on next date of hearing after taking instructions from president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari in a contempt of court petition against him for alleged violation of court orders which ‘expect’ him to shun the political office while being the President.
The federation’s counsel Advocate Wasim Sajjad appearing before the court on Wednesday submitted that President Asif Ali Zardari did not hold any political office nor has any prohibitory order been issued by the court in the past against the dual office of the President. He added that only an expectation has been made by the court in this regard.
The Chief Justice said that the court could give another chance to the President, provided he undertakes to obey the court orders. “And we can give you time to seek instructions from the President to this effect,” Justice Bandial told Advocate Sajjad.
Before the bench adjourned further hearings till October 31, Sajjad argued before the bench that the president was co-chairperson of a party (PPP) which was not even registered with election commission of Pakistan nor allotted an election symbol. Instead, he said, it was the Pakistan Peoples Party-Parliamentarians (PPPP) which was a registered party of which Amin Faheem was registered as President and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was its secretary. Therefore, he argued that the question of political activities by the President was baseless.
The bench headed by LHC chief justice Atta Bandial was hearing the petition for implementation of its order passed on May 12, 2011, and requesting contempt of court proceedings against the president.
Advocate Sajjad had submitted that the LHC in its May 12 judgment had not passed any prohibitory order against the President but expressed its expectation that the President would give up his political activities, Justice Bandial remarked that the court had showed restraint and avoided passing a direct order keeping in view the sanctity of the office of the President. The court had issued a declaration which was meant to be obeyed, the CJ added.
He also read out a paragraph of the May 12 judgment which states, “It is expected that the President of Pakistan would abide the foregoing declaration of law to disassociate himself from the political office at the earliest.”
Advocate Sajjad reiterated that the order was not prohibitory in nature. He also lauded the May 12 judgment and said the words used and not used by the then judges had great significance.
The counsel gave the same answer when Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah asked him, “Do you think the expectation expressed by the court was merely casual remarks?”
Justice Shah continued the dialogue with the counsel and asked as to why the federation has not challenged the May 12 judgment by filing an appeal.
Advocate Sajjad replied that there was no reason to file an appeal since no order passed against the President. The counsel argued that the President has not committed contempt of court since the court in its order had voiced an expectation rather than demand action. He said the matter should have been left for the parliament to react on the alleged unconstitutional activities of the President.
He also challenged the locus standi of the petitioner and said during the last four years no political party approached the courts against the alleged illegal activities of the President and that private persons are filing petitions against the President.
Before concluding the hearing the Chief Justice Bandial addressed Advocate Sajjad and said that there should be no misconception about restraint being shown by the LHC about taking Suo Motu notices. “We are showing restraint in taking Suo Motu notices and facing criticism but we have legal reasons for this,” the CJ added.