Contempt of court: Gilani’s conviction goes unchallenged

Sunday, May 27th, 2012 10:30:22 by


Ignoring the advice of the premier’s counsel Aitzaz Ahsan and Attorney General of Pakistan Irfan Qadir, the conviction of the prime minister went unchallenged on Saturday.

In a statement issued to the Supreme Court advocate on record on Saturday, Aitzaz said that an appeal will not be filed against the conviction of the prime minister on contempt charges. The decision to not file an appeal was reportedly taken by PPP Co-chairman and President Asif Ali Zardari.

Aitzaz was not available for comment but the attorney general said the decision to not file an appeal was taken by Aitzaz and his legal team.

Qadir said he was in favour of an appeal so that the court could rectify its mistake in convicting the prime minister. He added, however, that the speaker’s ruling proves that the state is superior.

Aitzaz’s options

Sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune that the premier’s lawyer, Aitzaz, had earlier warned the party leadership of the consequences of National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza’s ruling. “She could also be served a contempt notice,” a federal minister said, while quoting Aitzaz.

Aitzaz had admitted that, in the case of an appeal, the scope was limited and the court could clarify the situation that would not be in favour of the prime minister. However, he had compiled a lengthy appeal against the conviction and had pointed out about 150 objections over the judgment that found the premier guilty of contempt, the minister added.

Soon after the Supreme Court’s April 26th short order and detailed judgment, Aitzaz had stated that the government would file an appeal. However, according to sources, following the speaker’s ruling against the premier’s disqualification, the government decided not to file an appeal.

Aitzaz lauds speaker’s ruling

Speaking to the media in Lahore, Aitzaz lauded the speaker’s decision against disqualifying Gilani.

“The constitutional position of the ruling is simple. It was the right decision, and was in line with the objections we had raised in our appeal draft,” he said.

Aitzaz explained that the role of the Election Commission of Pakistan has ended in the case as the speaker had taken her decision. “The election commission’s doors are now closed. It would have been consulted in two conditions – if the speaker had forwarded the reference to the election commission or had failed to take any decision within 30 days.”

When asked whether a convicted prime minister can pass the budget, Aitzaz said, “According to the constitution and the law, if a person has been convicted to a sentence of less than two years, then he continues to be a member [of the House] and hence can remain a prime minister.”

He added that there are three ways to dismiss a prime minister. “One – he resigns himself. Two – a vote of no-confidence is brought against him. Three – he is disqualified from his basic membership.”

“As none of these has happened, it is possible for [Gilani] to pass the budget, he added.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2012.

Islamabad News Sources -2

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