NRO Implementation case: SC orders PM Ashraf to write letter
13 July, 2012
ISLAMABAD: After dismissing former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on June 19, the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to indicate by July 25 whether he would write to the Swiss authorities to reopen cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
A five-member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa said, "The prime minister/chief executive of the federation shall cause a report to be submitted before this court regarding compliance of the directions contained in paragraphs No 177 and 178 of the NRO judgement, failing which, this court may initiate any appropriate action under the constitution and the law."
During the hearing, Attorney General of Pakistan Irfan Qadir informed the bench that he had met with the prime minister on Wednesday and he (the prime minister) had instructed him to apprise the court that "the matter was taken up in cabinet's meeting and the cabinet has desired that the Law Ministry should furnish its views regarding the implementation of the relevant paragraph of the NRO judgement, and as and when the Law Ministry renders its opinion in the matter, the cabinet shall take decision in accordance with the provisions of the constitution". He further told the court that he had to leave the country and asked that the case be heard afterwards.
Upon this, the court told the attorney general that it would give its response in one hour and left the courtroom. After the break, Justice Khosa read out the order.
Referring to its previous orders in the case of former prime minister Gilani, the court said, "These directions apply with equal force to the incumbent prime minister, as he has merely stepped into the shoes of his predecessor in office, and thus he too is bound to implement the relevant directions of the court regardless of any advice tendered earlier or in future." The court directed the prime minister to act in the matter forthwith.
The court also took judicial notice of Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira's July 11 press conference wherein he had categorically declared that the constitution did not permit writing letter to the Swiss authorities, and therefore, the direction of the court issued in that regard could not be implemented.
The bench noted that different political functionaries of the federal government and others had also been harping on the same theme in the print and electronic media and even in public meetings for some time.
The court noted that during the preliminary hearing of the contempt of court case against the former prime minister, he had maintained inter alia that his inaction to write a letter to the Swiss authorities was due to the immunity enjoyed by the president under Article 248 of the constitution.
It was further remarked that the court had observed in that judgement that an immunity under the customary international law was relevant to, and could be invoked by the person concerned before, a foreign court and was, thus, irrelevant to the contempt of court proceedings against the then prime minister. That judgement had already attained finality as it was never challenged through any appeal or review, the court said.