Wed. Oct 20th, 2021

NRO case: Supreme Court warns president, PM of disqualification

Faisal Shakeel

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday warned President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani of disqualification for defying implementation of the NRO verdict.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, heading a five-judge bench, said the PM did not appear to be a “sagacious” person as evident from his defiance of the court orders in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case. The judge read out the order contemplating at least six options for the court to proceed with the matter of NRO implementation.

The court said that both the president and the prime minister as well as the law minister could be disqualified from getting elected.

The bench noted that the president’s interview and the prime minister’s speeches reflected that their loyalty was above their oath to protect the Constitution.

“The court has the option to record findings and hand down a declaration… which would have an effect of a permanent nature when it comes to the prime minister’s qualification to be chosen as a member of the Parliament,” the order stated.

A similar violation of the oath had been committed by the president and the law minister, the bench said.

The bench ordered Attorney General (AG) Maulvi Anwarul Haq to consult with the PM and the president for their replies. “Why should the court not exercise these options?” the court said while asking the attorney general to inform after consulting both the figures.

One of the options the court spelled out in its order pertained to the formation of a commission to give findings on the charges that the court read out.

The court also asked the president to claim immunity if he thought he was above the court order. Earlier, the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, while hearing the memo case, had observed that the immunity did not come into play itself.

The bench also said that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Admiral (retired) Fasih Bokhari was apparently guilty of misconduct for not taking action against two convicts, who were appointed in the service of Pakistan.

The court had asked the NAB to take action against Ahmed Riaz Sheikh and Adnan A khwaja, who were appointed as additional director FIA and chairman of the OGDCL respectively.

Earlier, both the NAB chairman and the prosecutor general had submitted before the court that no one could be proceeded against for appointing both the persons. The court had indicated that the PM had used his influence for getting Adnan A Khwaja appointed.

There are other laws under which Sheikh and Khwaja could be proceeded against, said the NAB chairman. “But as far as NAB law is concerned, they could not be proceeded against,” he added.

Spelling out its last option, the court said the matter of defiance of the court orders and constitutional dictates could be handed over to the Parliament to decide.

The court had asked the attorney general to present the points of view of the concerned people in front of the court in the next hearing. It also asked all the concerned people to step forward and approach the court in case they want to be heard.

“No one should complain that they were condemned unheard,” the bench said. It directed the AG, the law secretary, the NAB chairman and the prosecutor general to remain present on the next date of hearing. The bench has also referred the matter to the chief justice for formation of a larger bench.

The attorney general had informed the five-member bench that he was unable to tell whether or not the government would write a letter to the Swiss authorities.

The law secretary has gone abroad, where he is being treated for a prostate problem, the AG submitted. The secretary was required to prepare a summary for the prime minister for his permission to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland.

The cases were withdrawn under the NAB Ordinance through a letter written by former Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayyum.

The five-judge bench, on the last day of hearing, had observed that it was giving a final opportunity to authorities to take action against those who violated its verdict.

The attorney general pleaded that the government had reopened over 8,000 cases pursuant to its December 16 order against the NAB Ordinance. Besides, the order on establishment of accountability courts was also implemented, he submitted.

Justice Khosa observed the law secretary seem to be avoiding an appearance deliberately. Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry observed that the secretary may not return unless the implementation case was decided.

“I will pray for his early recovery,” the AG hastened to add.

The proceedings would resume on January 16.

Constitution will define implementation of court’s order: Awan

Federation’s lawyer Babar Awan said that Article 187 (2) of the Constitution speaks for itself and the Article will define the mechanism of the implementation of court’s verdict in the NRO case.

Awan was speaking to the media after the Supreme Court reserved its judgement in the NRO implementation case on Tuesday.

He said that President Zardari was appointed to his post by the people of Pakistan and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was also appointed by the people’s parliament for the first time in the history of Pakistan.

Criticising Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML) chief Nawaz Sharif, Awan said that he is “roaming around in Islamabad” filing applications, and now he has a great opportunity as former dictator Pervaiz Musharraf is returning back to the country.

The full verdict can be read here.

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