Gilani's lawyer cites Indian precedents for appeal

Gilani's lawyer cites Indian precedents for appeal

Pak SC to hear prime ministers appeal in contempt case today.

Citing precedents in countries like India, Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against its order summoning him for framing contempt charges over his failure to reopen graft cases against the President, which will be taken up on Thursday.

After the 200-page intra-court appeal was filed by Gilani’s lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan seeking suspension of the order summoning him on February 13, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry decided that an eight-judge bench headed by himself would take it up on Thursday. The hearing is expected to begin at 9.30 am.

While filing the appeal earlier in the day, Ahsan had sought an early hearing and suggested that the matter could be taken up on Friday.

The Chief Justice responded that the case could be listed for for Thursday as the apex court had a busy schedule on Friday.

In the appeal, Ahsan asked the apex court to suspend its decision summoning the Premier. Ahsan told reporters outside the court that he had based the appeal on precedents set by apex courts in India, Australia, Britain, France and the US.

In India, there is a provision of filing a review petition against the apex court’s order. “I have quoted more than 50 national and international cases and given specific reasons against the Supreme Court’s order,” Ahsan said. “It depends on the court to stay the proceedings and decide against summoning the Prime Minister on February 13,” he said.

The appeal asked the court to postpone the indictment, saying the ruling was issued without Gilani being given an opportunity to defend himself directly.

On February 2, a seven-judge bench of the apex court had summoned Gilani to appear on February 13 to be indicted for contempt over his failure to act on its order to pursue corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The order added to the tensions between the government and the judiciary.

If Gilani is convicted of contempt, he could be jailed for up to six months and disqualified from holding public office for five years.

The appeal pointed out over 50 legal and constitutional points which support the view that the Premier did not go against the Constitution by not reopening the cases against Zardari. “A respondent has 30 days to file an appeal against the court’s decision. I asked for 30 days but the bench only gave me 11 days... We have tried to file the appeal as soon as possible so that a larger bench – larger than the current one – can be formed,” Ahsan said.

The Supreme Court has been pressuring the government to revive cases of alleged money laundering against Zardari in Switzerland since it struck down a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in December 2009.

The government has refused to reopen the cases against Zardari, saying the President enjoys complete immunity from prosecution in criminal cases in Pakistan and abroad.