The Supreme Court on Thursday directed barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel for the Prime Minister in appeal against order of seven-member bench in contempt of court issue, to conclude his arguments by Friday morning.
An eight-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry conducted proceedings on an appeal seeking suspension of contempt proceedings and recalling of show cause notice against the Prime Minister.
At the outset of proceedings, the bench objected to certain questions of laws raised for its consideration and questioned the objective. Barrister Atizaz Ahsan replied that these were not phrased to demean the judiciary but rather showed the respect of his client who undid illegal steps of former dictator.
He said that his client could not think of committing contempt and even forgave the judge who had sentenced him for ten years. However, upon bench’s repeated questions, the counsel and advocate on record SM Khattak opted for deletion of paras number 42, 51, 52.
Aitzaz said that the contempt issue against the Prime Minister was a serious one and he appeared before the bench as pro bono as he did not want any clash between the institutions. His appearance was appreciated by the Chief Justice who observed that jurists like Aitzaz should continue appearing before the Court as his assistance on various important issues would be of great value.
Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja remarked that they had to observe complete detachment while conducting proceedings over the issue. Aitzaz Ahsan objecting to earlier order of a five members bench enlisting six options to be exercised in case of contempt, said that the language used in it against the Prime Minister was very strong in which he was accused of violating his oath and termed ‘dishonest’.
He said with insertion of words ‘prima facie’, the Prime Minister was accused of betrayal of his oath to Almighty Allah. The Chief Justice told him that these were options for the bench and not for his client.
The counsel argued that his client had not committed any contempt by not implementing para 178 of the NRO judgement because under Rules of Business, he had acted upon the advice of former law minister, attorney generals and law secretaries.
Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed that NRO judgement had attained finality after the review was dismissed and all the judicial orders had to be implemented. The Chief Justice observed that the system should proceed and it should be the objective of everyone that institutions should function smoothly.
The Court in former Justice Zahid Hussain’s contempt case withdrew its notice after he acceded that he did not want to contest and bowed before the order of the Court, he added.
Aitzaz objected and said that he would not go for a bargain as he wanted decision of his appeal on merits.
Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja observed that the Court always showed restraint and did not want to punish anyone in contempt. Aitzaz argued that if there was any money in Switzerland belonging to Pakistan, it could be brought back on basis of convictions and with claims as damages for third party but the facts were not considered while issuing directive in NRO judgement.
He contended that the cases in Switzerland were closed on merits and the request for mutual assistance also ended during 2008 which could not be revived now. The counsel referring to PCO judges’ case said that the Court had granted them a patient hearing but during initial hearing, he was not given time to conclude his arguments.
To a question, he replied that in show cause notice, his client was not asked to make submission in writing. He said if he was granted enough time, he would succeed in persuading the bench that the para number 178 in NRO judgement was not implementable.