Government Vs. Supreme Court Tussle Continues In Pakistan

Government Vs. Supreme Court Tussle Continues In Pakistan   Islamabad: A day before the expiry of a deadline set by Pakistan’s Supreme Court for reviving graft charges against President Asif Ali Zardari, the government on Tuesday informed the court that the federal cabinet has made no decision to approach Swiss authorities to reopen the cases.

The government conveyed its position to the court through a reply submitted by attorney general Irfan Qadir.

A five-judge bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa resumed  hearing the case on Wednesday and observers said the government’s response could increase tensions between the judiciary and the government.

The government’s response said the prime minister follows the decisions of the cabinet, which has so far not advised him to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to revive the graft cases against the president.

The government further said that the option of initiating contempt of court proceedings against the prime minister for not acting on the apex court’s order had ended with the passage of the new Contempt of Court Act.

The new law protects top government functionaries from contempt for their executive actions.

The government also asked the court to review its order directing the premier to reopen the corruption cases in Switzerland.

On July 12, the apex court had directed Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to comply with its order to revive the corruption cases against Zardari by July 25.

It had warned that if the premier failed to act on its directive, the court “may initiate any appropriate action under the constitution and the law”.

The same case had cost Ashraf’s predecessor, Yousuf Raza Gilani, his job.

Gilani was convicted of contempt in April after he refused to act on the apex court’s orders to reopen the graft cases.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry subsequently disqualified Gilani for five years.

The court has been pressuring the government to act against the president since December 2009, when it annulled a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf that benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others.

The ruling Pakistan People’s Party and some legal experts have accused the apex court of bias for focussing only on the cases against Zardari.

The government has maintained that it cannot ask the Swiss authorities to act against the president as he enjoys immunity within Pakistan and abroad.



One comment

  1. The original jurisdiction of the SC, and its suo motu powers, are being used with such frequency that it has aroused concerns in the legal community at home and abroad. The net effect of all this judicial activism by the SC runs the risk, which may already be at hand, of making the SC controversial, a development neither in the interests of the judiciary nor the polity. No one knows what the motives of Supreme Court are when it is clear from constitution and international law that head of state until in office cannot be prosecuted. Thus the law had not been followed in the case, paragraph 178 of the NRO judgement was unimplementable because the president enjoyed immunity while in office, and that one prime minister had already been sent home unconstitutionally for not implementing the court’s orders. This callous stance of Judiciary will bring further impasses and finally an overt showdown between executive and judiciary, which is not in favor of country in any case. Thus Judiciary must show some restrain and work within its ambits.

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