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Appeal dismissed

– PM to appear in SC on Monday for conviction

By Iqbal Mustafa

ISLAMABAD – Supreme Court (SC) has rejected Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani's intra-court appeal against the court order to indict him on February 13; hence, he will have to appear before the seven-member bench to be indicted on February 13.

After hearing Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani's appeal, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry delivered the verdict. Former Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader Aitezaz Ahsan, who is counsel of the PM Gilani in the contempt case, completed his arguments on Friday before the eight-strong bench headed by Chief Justice Chaudhry.

The bench included Justice Shakirullah Jan, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Tariq Pervez, Justice Amir Haani Muslim, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali. The court heard the PM Gilani's appeal against order delivered by a seven-judge bench on February 2 seeking indictment of the Prime Minister.

The appeal prayed to the court to repeal show-cause notice issued to the PM. Aitezaz contended there is a simple notice in addition to the show-cause notice in Contempt of Court Ordinance, adding it would have been better if a plain notice had been dispatched to him (PM Gilani). He said stringent remarks were passed concerning the PM before the contempt. The Chief Justice Chaudhry said it is sufficient for the court to be satisfied prior to the indictment, adding it is up to the court as to what extent it goes to hear the arguments to decide about the indictment.

The PM, he added, did not submit any written rejoinder in reply to the show-cause notice. Addressing Aitezaz, the CJ said, 'You made a record of constant arguments, as you set up a record of 26-hour continuous driving. The seven-member bench heard your arguments at length. Had the PM given written statement, everything would have been clear.'

Agencies Add: The Supreme Court on Friday threw out an appeal from embattled Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani against contempt charges, paving the way for him to be indicted next week. Speaking to reporters outside the court, Barrister Atizaz Ahsan, the PM’s counsel, confirmed that the prime minister would now appear in court on Monday.

The eight-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry upheld a summons for Gilani to appear on February 13 to face indictment for the government’s two-year refusal to ask Swiss authorities to re-open graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

If convicted of contempt of court, Gilani faces up to six months in jail and being disqualified from office.

“The appeal is dismissed,” the chief justice told the court, upholding the February 2 summons for Gilani to appear on Monday.

The chief justice said that “the court can go to any extent to implement its verdict”.

He wanted a clear answer on whether the prime minister would write to the Swiss, telling his lawyer: “We are ready to give you 10 minutes to talk to the prime minister on the phone and let us know.”

Tell the prime minister this is not in the interests of the country (to defy the court order).”

“I have no mandate to do that,” replied Ahsan, adding: “It may not be possible for the PM to seek instructions by Monday as he will require more time to do so.”

Throughout the hearing, Ahsan provided the members of court with citation from various cases pertaining to contempt of court charges. However, the chief justice dismissed his arguments by saying that the precedents he mentioned are of civil nature whereas the current case is of criminal nature.

After conclusion of Ahsan’s arguments, the chief justice announced a detailed verdict in which he recalled previous National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) hearings as well as the government’s refusal to correspond with the Swiss authorities.

He also reiterated that the NRO was declared unconstitutional in December 2009 and all the corruption cases which were closed in Pakistan and abroad now stand reopen.

Political analyst Nazir Naji had expressed fears that after this new development the Senate elections could be postponed and that the government could also be changed after the budget.

Justice (r) Shahid Usmani told DawnNews that a contempt case could be dismissed at any time if an apology was sought from the court.

SC summons Defence Minister over missing persons

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Friday summoned the Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and the Feder al Defence Minister to appear before the court on February 13.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, was hearing the case of the ‘missing persons’ believed to be illegally detained by the intelligence agencies.

During the hearing today, the bench had ordered the agencies to produce the remaining seven ‘missing persons’ still alive by today or face legal action.

It was reported that four of the seven detainees were released from Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital on Friday and were being sent to Islamabad. The other three, who were known to be held at a detention centre in Parachinar, were also being transported to Islamabad but could not reach on time due to bad weather, it was told.

However, the court waited till 5:30pm and adjourned the hearing till Feb 13 after the ‘missing persons’ could not be produced.

In addition to summoning the Defence Secretary and Chief Secretary KPK, the court also ordered the detainees to be produced at the next hearing.

The bench advised the Director-General Inter Services Intelligence (DG ISI) to ensure the security and presence of the seven remaining ‘missing persons’ at the court hearing on Feb 13.

During the hearing, the chief justice said in his remarks that if the prime minister could appear before the SC, why could anyone else not be able to do so?

Earlier during the day, counsel for the intelligence agencies Raja Irshad informed the SC that four of the 11 detainees had died, while four other were currently under treatment at a hospital in Peshawar.

The three remaining persons were at a detention facility in Parachinar, said Irshad, and that they could not be presented in court.

Rejecting Irshad’s position, the chief justice ordered the agencies to produce the detainees in court by the evening, or face legal action.

An official at the Lady Reading Hospital had told Dawn that four people, who were among the 11 prisoners who went missing from Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail, were brought to the hospital in precarious condition and doctors there had no chance to save them.

The four detainees — Mohammad Aamir, Tehseenullah, Said Arab and Syed Abdul Saboor — had died in mysterious circumstances at the hospital over the past few months.

The official had also said that another four detainees presently undergoing treatment at the medico-legal ward of the hospital were also brought in a “bad shape”.

The SC, in its last order, had categorically told Raja Irshad to produce all those ‘missing people’ who were arrested and have been kept under illegal detention.

Irshad had responded to the court by saying that he was unable to escort the detained people as some of them are not in good health. However, the court had rejected his plea by signifying that the relatives of the missing persons do not have an issue with the situation and will appreciate their presence in the court.

Agencies

 
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