Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court on Friday rejected a government petition seeking a review of its order that struck down a controversial graft amnesty for politicians, setting the stage for possible reopening of corruption cases against top leaders like President Asif Ali Zardari.
A 17-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry dismissed the government`s petition which had sought a review of its December 2009 ruling declaring as unconstitutional the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) passed by former president Pervez Musharraf granting amnesty to politicians accused of corruption.
The bench said in a short order that it was of the considered view that no case was made out for a review. The court directed authorities to comply with its earlier detailed order on the issue in letter and spirit without any delay.
It had heard the case for five days before dismissing the government`s petition.
Former law minister Babar Awan, a close aide of Zardari, had appeared in court as the government`s counsel. On December 16, 2009, the Supreme Court had struck down the NRO, which was passed in October 2007 by Musharraf as part of a secret understanding with slain former premier Benazir Bhutto.
The secret deal had allowed Musharraf, who was also Army chief, to remain in power by contesting presidential polls while still in uniform. The deal also allowed Bhutto, then in self-exile, and Zardari to return to Pakistan without facing charges in corruption cases.
The Pakistan People`s Party-led government has so far failed to act on the Supreme Court`s directive to reopen scores of corruption cases that were closed under the NRO.
Among these are cases registered in Switzerland against Zardari for the alleged laundering of 60 million dollars. Pakistan`s former Attorney General had written to Swiss authorities in April 2008 to close the cases against Zardari in view of the promulgation of the NRO.
Despite pressure from the Supreme Court, the government has dragged its feet on writing to Swiss authorities to reopen these cases.