Aitzaz disputes contempt of court law
23 March, 2012
ISLAMABAD: The prime minister's counsel in the contempt of court case, Aitzaz Ahsan, on Thursday contended before the Supreme Court that the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 stood void after incorporation of Article 10A in the constitution through the 18th Constitutional Amendment.
Arguing before a seven-member bench, headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk, Aitzaz said that the existing contempt of court law was not in conformity with the constitution, thus contempt proceedings cannot be conducted under it against his client. He asked the court to declare the law void. He said Article 10A gave the right of a fair trial to every citizen, and under it the bench, which had already served a show-cause notice to the prime minister, was not competent to conduct the trial proceedings.
The counsel stated that the judges of the seven-member special bench, which had later framed contempt charges against the premier, were not competent to conduct the trial proceedings, as it would be violation of the constitution in view of Article 10A. "I and the party may have full confidence in the bench and judges, and may not raise the issue of recusal, but any judge who has inquired into the matter previously should not be on the bench," Aitzaz argued, and demanded a new bench hear the case.
The counsel argued that Article 10A had primacy over the law of contempt of court. He said the court had the power to strike down any law which was contradictory to constitutional provisions. Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa asked him to challenge the law if he had any issue with it, whereas Justice Khosa said that under Article 204 the court could sentence anyone for contempt of court. Aitzaz contended that the use of this power is subject to law, adding nobody, including the court, had arbitrary power.
Justice Khosa asked the counsel whether one provision of the constitution could be utilised to scuttle another. On Aitzaz's insistence that the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 was in conflict with Article 10A of the constitution, Justice Osmany inquired whether the bench should follow contempt of court ordinance or Article 10A. The counsel replied the bench would have to follow the constitution. He said Article 10A is an important provision and was introduced after much deliberation. The court adjourned the hearing until Monday.