No immunity for Zardari in contempt case: LHC
28 September, 2012
LAHORE: Lahore High Court's Chief Justice, while hearing a contempt of court petition against President Asif Ali Zardari, has remarked that no one has immunity from contempt proceedings.
Heading the five-member larger bench, the Chief Justice said Thursday that no one can defy court orders on the premise of immunity.
Obeying court orders is binding on every citizen and no one can ignore them, he added.
The bench was holding proceedings on petition seeking contempt proceedings against Zardari for not relinquishing the political office of PPP co-chairperson and the office for President of Pakistan, in compliance of a LHC full bench order issued last year.
Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh, Justice Sheikh Najamul Hassan, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah were the other members of the larger bench.
The bench, however, asked the petitioner's counsel to convince the court on a point whether Article 248(2) of the Constitution was applicable in the case.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, who headed the bench, further asked Advocate AK Dogar, the petitioner's counsel, to advance arguments on next hearing to define whether the nature of these contempt proceedings was criminal, civil or sui generis.
Earlier, the bench turned down a request of federal government to adjourn hearing due to unavailability of its counsel Advocate Wasim Sajjad and continued with the proceedings.
Additional Advocate General Abdul Hayi Gilani also tried to seek adjournment of the case on the premise that the Attorney General could not attend proceedings since he was not in Lahore on Thursday.
Gilani came to the rostrum and objected the proceedings in the absence of the federal government's counsel. He asked the CJ to adjourn the hearing as there was no counsel standing on the other side to counter the arguments of petitioner's counsel.
The CJ directed the law officer to have seat as the arguments delivered from the petitioner side were not against the federal government. "The court wants to know what the Supreme Court had decided the matter of immunity," the CJ added.
Justice Bandial said the court has already asked the AG and the counsel for the federation to file their objections if any against the maintainability of this petition which, so far, cannot be filed. However, the CJ allowed Dogar to extend his arguments.
The LHC CJ argued that the absence of the government's counsel would have no bearing on the proceedings since the government was not a necessary party in the case, rather a proforma respondent. He said the government was trying to delay the proceedings.
Advocate Dogar during his arguments read out judgment of Supreme Court against Contempt of Court Act 2012. He tried to convince the bench that the constitutional immunity under Article 24(2) was not a hurdle in sentencing punishment for president for committing contempt of court. He said the SC had declared that the court under competent court could punish any person who committed contempt of the court.
Dogar pointed towards statements of President Zardari and his activities published or aired by media as enough proof of President's continuous violation of not only the Constitution, but also the LHC order.