Islamabad: The Supreme Court summoned a top Pakistani official on Tuesday hearing the contempt of court case against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for not acting against President Asif Ali Zardari.
A seven-member bench summoned Nargis Sethi, secretary defence and cabinet division, as a witness in the case.
Gilani's counsel Aitzaz Ahsan maintained that the prime minister never intended to act in contempt of court. “He was bound to act on the Law Ministry's advice,” he added.
The next hearing in the case was adjourned till March 7.
Gilani's counsel Aitzaz Ahsan submitted a reply in the apex court in the contempt case yesterday.
The counsel moved an application seeking the summoning of three witnesses as court witnesses in the interest of a fair trial.
Ahsan filed his application under various government rules read with sections of the Criminal Procedure Code for summoning of witnesses and documents.
He said the apex court should call former Law Minister Babar Awan, Law Secretary Masood Chishti and Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi to appear as the court's witnesses.
He also asked the court to obtain certified copies of certain documents that would be furnished as evidence in support of Gilani.
Ahsan said Gilani did not want to ask the former minister and the two secretaries to appear in court in his official capacity as this could be perceived as "exertion of undue influence".
Gilani had appeared before the Supreme Court Jan 19 in the contempt case for not acting against Zardari for corruption and defended his move, saying that the constitution provided immunity to the President.
The Supreme Court recently rejected Gilani's appeal and indicted him for contempt of court after he refused to act on orders to reopen cases of alleged money laundering against President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland.
Zardari, accused of graft, had been granted amnesty under the NRO which was issued in 2007 by then president Pervez Musharraf to facilitate the return of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband Zardari.
The apex court had issued Gilani a contempt notice Jan 16.
The apex court has been pressuring the government to revive the cases against Zardari since December 2009, when it struck down the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
The government has refused to act, saying the President enjoys complete immunity from prosecution within Pakistan and abroad.
First Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 09:33