Pak: Petition in SC against Contempt of Court bill
Islamabad: A petition was filed in the Pakistan Supreme Court on Tuesday challenging the new Contempt of Court bill.
Petitioner Siddique Baloch said that by proposing the bill, the government has taken an unconstitutional and unlawful step, reports The Dawn.
The National Assembly had on Monday passed the 13-clause bill, which exempts "holders of public office" from the mischief of contempt in "exercise of powers and performance of functions" and allows for suspension of a sentence during the pendency of an appeal.
Baloch requested the court to declare the contempt bill as void and listed the federation and the Law Ministry as parties in his petition.
The bill will ostensibly provide cover for Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf from possible disqualification by the Supreme Court, which had sought his compliance on an earlier verdict to write to Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. This case had led to the disqualification and unseating of Yousuf Raza Gilani as premier on contempt of court charges last month, reports The Express Tribune.
Khawaja Saad Rafiq from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that the only purpose of the bill is to tie the hands of the superior judiciary since it gives license to abuse authority.
"Through such legislation, you (government) are inviting undemocratic forces," he added.
PM Ashraf, however, said the law will provide full opportunity for a fair trial and a transparent procedure for the right to appeal.
The bill still has to be passed by the Senate, and then signed by the president - which will probably be done before July 12, when the court takes up the Swiss letter matter.