|SC orders PM to write Swiss letter or face ‘appropriate action’|
13 July 2012
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to implement its order in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case by writing a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen the graft cases against President Asif Ali Zradari, and submit the compliance report by July 25.
A five-member bench, led by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal, Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Muhammad Athar Saeed, heard the NRO implementation case.
“The prime minister shall cause a report to be submitted before this court by July 25 regarding compliance of the directions contained in paragraph numbers 177 and 178 of the judgment passed by this court in the Dr Mobashir Hassan case, and failing which this court may initiate any appropriate action under the Constitution and the law,” the court ruled in its order.
The apex court said Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz was also bound to implement the ordergiven to former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, who had to face ouster after being disqualified by the Supreme Court on contempt charges.
In compliance with the court’s order, the attorney general informed the court he had personally met with the newly-elected prime minister to convey the court orders. He said the matter was discussed in the cabinet meeting and it was decided that the Law Ministry should furnish its views regarding implementation of the relevant paragraph of the court’s judgment and as and when the Law Ministry gave its opinion in the matter, the PM would then decide what to do in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
The AG, however, requested the court to adjourn the proceedings and take up the case again after the summer vacations as he was leaving for abroad. Justice Khosa asked the attorney general whether he was going to Switzerland. The AG replied in the negative.
The court recalled that while making particular reference to the immunity of the president of Pakistan, the former PM maintained that his decision – that the letter to the Swiss authorities in terms of Paragraphs 177 and 178 of the judgment shall not be written – was based on the advice tendered to him in the ordinary course of business. However, courteous in his demeanour, he made no commitment to implement the court’s direction.
“We will not comment upon the defence of the prime minister as the same will be examined in the contempt proceedings still pending adjudication. The proceedings relate to disobedience of the earlier orders of the court and their pendency does not affect the process already undertaken for implementation of the directions. Thus, regardless of any advice tendered earlier or in the future, the prime minister, being chief executive of the federation, who admittedly has the final say in the executive domain, shall implement the directions given in Paras 177 and 178 of the judgment in the Dr Mobashir Hassan case,” the court observed.
The court recalled that the main judgment passed by this court on April 26. 2012 in the matter showed that even during his final arguments Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel for former PM Gilani, had categorically maintained that the immunity being referred to in defence of the then prime minister was that enjoyed by a head of the state under the customary international law and not the one contemplated by Article 248.
“The court had observed in that judgment that an immunity under the customary international law was relevant to, and could be invoked by the person concerned before, a foreign court and was, thus, irrelevant to the contempt of court proceedings against the then prime minister. That judgment of this court has already attained finality as it was never challenged through any appeal or review,” the court ruled in its order.
The court also noted that the information minister had held a press conference a few days ago wherein he categorically declared that the Constitution of Pakistan did not permit writing of the relevant letter to the Swiss authorities and, therefore, the direction of this court issued in that regard could not be implemented. The court said different political functionaries of the federal government and others were harping on the same theme in the print and electronic media and even in public meetings for some time and a reference in this respect was being made to the provisions of Article 248.
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