Contempt plea against Pakistani law minister in Supreme Court

Last Updated: Friday, April 9, 2010 - 18:11

Islamabad: A contempt plea has been filed in Pakistan`s Supreme Court against the country`s law minister for allegedly hindering the implementation of an apex court verdict overturning an amnesty against graft.

Muhammad Tariq Asad, an advocate, filed the plea Friday seeking action against Law Minister Babar Awan under article 204 of the constitution, Online news agency reported.

At issue is the reopening of a $60 million Swiss money laundering case against President Asif Ali Zardari after the Supreme Court struck down the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) last December and ordered that all the 158 graft cases closed under this be reactivated.

According to Asad, the law minister had neither provided the record and documents relating to the Swiss case to former attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan nor he had allowed the latter to see the documents.

The former attorney general wanted to file the records and documents related to the Swiss cases in the Supreme Court but the law minister stated that "he would have to cross over his dead body" to obtain the records, Asad stated.

This statement impeded the process of implementing the Supreme Court order and the non-provision of records about the Swiss cases was tantamount to the law minister committing contempt of court, Asad maintained.

The petition also states that when no one is above the law and the constitution, the president is not immune from prosecution adding: "Immunity is not above law and this is sheer breach of set principles."

The petitioner has sought interpretations of all these aspects from the court.

Then president Pervez Musharraf had promulgated the NRO in October 2007, primarily to enable former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband Zardari, who faced a slew of corruption cases, to return home from self-imposed exile.

Bhutto was assassinated in a gun and bomb attack as she left a political rally in the adjacent garrison town of Rawalpindi Dec 27, 2007.

A host of other politicians, retired army officers and bureaucrats had also benefited from the NRO.

On March 31, Pakistan`s corruption watchdog the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had informed the Supreme Court that it had written to the Swiss authorities to reopen the case against Zardari.


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First Published: Friday, April 9, 2010 - 18:11

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