Islamabad: Mounting up pressure against Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday ordered that he must write to Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari till July 25.
The five-judge bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa directed the Premier to write to the Swiss authorities and furnish a report on complying with the court's order at the next hearing on July 25.
If the PM failed to do so, the court will take appropriate action under the Constitution against him, the bench warned.
The bench headed by Justice Khosa also rejected Ashraf's response that was submitted through Attorney General Irfan Qadir.
The court also ordered that the PM must act now, without any further consultations on the matter.
The court on June 19 dismissed Yousuf Raza Gilani as prime minister after convicting him of contempt in April for refusing to reopen the multi-million-dollar cases against the president.
Earlier on June 27, the bench had given the PM a time of two weeks to state whether he would ask Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Meanwhile, President Asif ali Zardari gave
his assent to the Contempt of Court Bill of 2012 after it was passed by the Senate and the National Assembly, the two houses of Parliament.
The bill is intended to save the new Prime Minister from possible disqualification by the apex court for refusing to reopen corruption cases against Zardari in Switzerland.
Under the new law, the time for filing appeals against a decision in contempt cases was extended from 30 to 60 days.
Till the appeal is decided, any decision in a contempt case will remain suspended.
The new law provides blanket immunity to top government functionaries, including the President, Prime Minister, federal ministers and provincial Chief Ministers and Governors, for executive actions.
Zardari’s case had cost Yousuf Raza Gilani, the former prime minister, his job after he refused to approach Swiss authorities for reopening corruption cases against Zardari.
The court on June 19 dismissed Gilani as prime minister after convicting him of contempt in April.
The Supreme Court has been pushing the government to reopen cases of money laundering against President Zardari in Switzerland since December 2009, when it struck down a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
Accused of graft, Zardari had been granted amnesty under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in 2007 by then president Pervez Musharraf to facilitate his return home and, primarily that of his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
The NRO that granted immunity to politicians and bureaucrats in corruption cases was struck down as void in 2009.
With PTI inputs
First Published: Thursday, July 12, 2012, 19:02