Pak PM files appeal; SC fixes hearing for Feb 9

Pak PM filed an appeal in the SC against its order summoning him for framing contempt charges over his failure to reopen graft cases against the President.

Islamabad: 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 tomorrow. 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 tomorrow 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

"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.

Commentators have accused the apex court of bias, saying
it had taken virtually no action against the more than 8,000
other people who had benefited from Musharraf`s graft amnesty.


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