Pakistan Supreme Court Gives March 21 Deadline To PM Gilani To Ask Swiss Authorities To Revive Graft Cases Against President Zardari

In an unexpected twist the Supreme Court sent shivers down the spine of many in the government when it categorically stated that the contempt case against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would not overshadow the NRO verdict.

SC gives March 21 deadline to PM for writing Swiss letter

ISLAMABAD: In an unexpected twist the Supreme Court sent shivers down the spine of many in the government when it categorically stated that the contempt case against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would not overshadow the NRO verdict.

Yousuf Raza Gilani faces contempt of court for his alleged non-compliance with earlier court orders

The court summoned a report from the prime minister on the implementation of the judgment.

A seven-judge bench headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk was hearing on Thursday contempt of court proceedings against the prime minister for not pursuing in Switzerland graft cases which also involved President Asif Ali Zardari.

After Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq had finished questioning Defence and Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi, he was asked by the bench to inform the prime minister that pendency of the contempt proceedings would not affect the implementation part.

Regardless of any advice tendered to him by the secretaries, the prime minister as chief executive of the country should implement the directive contained in paragraphs 177 and 178 of the NRO judgment, the court said.

The prime minister is required to submit a report about implementation of the judgment by March 21 when the court will resume hearing of the contempt case.

The court noted that despite repeated directions and warnings, it appeared that its orders were not implemented which compelled it to issue a show-cause notice to the prime minister who stated that the direction was not implementable because the president enjoyed immunity.

The bench said it would not comment on the defence of the prime minister, but as the chief executive he should implement the orders of the court.

The court also asked Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, the counsel for Mr Gilani, that he could file a reply on behalf of his client.

Otherwise, the prime minister himself could appear in person to testify and record his statement on March 21.

Mr Ahsan argued that he had not discussed with Mr Gilani whether he would file his written reply or appear in person.

Justice Nasirul Mulk told the counsel that if the prime minister wanted to file a written statement, he could file it with the registrar by March 19 and if he wished to appear in person he could do so on March 21. However, arguments would start on the day the court would meet.

Meanwhile, the attorney general who is the prosecutor in the contempt case, asked Defence and Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi a number of questions.

The secretary explained that important summaries were produced before the prime minister, like the summaries of May 21 and Sept 22, 2010, suggesting not to write a letter to Swiss authorities, were tabled before him in accordance with the rules of business and usual practice.

Hundreds of references came to the prime minister’s house, the secretary said, but only summaries were placed before him. She conceded that she did not make any query about the two summaries because she was not required to conduct inquiries. This, she added, was the job of the secretaries concerned.

The AG explained that he would further decide the future course if the prime minister chose to submit a written reply.