President Zardari signs contempt of court bill
13 July, 2012
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari, on Thursday, accorded assent to the Contempt of Court Bill 2012, making it into a law.
The law would exempt top government figures like the prime minister, governors, chief ministers, federal ministers and state ministers from contempt proceedings. The president signed the bill, already passed by the National Assembly on July 9 and by the Senate on July 11.
The law states, "An accused person may also at any stage submit an apology and the court, if satisfied, may discharge him or remit his sentence."
The new law overrides the Contempt of Court Act 1976 and repeals the contempt of court ordinances of 2003 and 2004. The bill received strong protest by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and is being challenged in the apex court by a few petitioners, who term it a mala fide action on the part of the government against the judiciary.
Meanwhile, the newly passed contempt of court law was challenged in the Supreme Court on Thursday.
A petition filed by Hamid Khan Advocate stated that the new law stood in clash with the articles 204/2-A and 175 of the constitution.
The petition made the federal government a party to the case. The contempt of court bill was approved by the Senate on Wednesday. The National Assembly had already approved it on July 9.
Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leaders criticised the Supreme Court and the chief justice during Wednesday's Senate session. They accused judiciary of targeting the PPP and being soft on others. The ruling party expressed reservations over the conduct of courts and judges.
The opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had protested and staged a walkout during the Senate session held to approve the bill. Two important members of the ruling party, among others, had expressed reservation over the bill.