Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a show-cause notice to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on charges of contempt of court and summoned him to personally appear on August 27 to explain why he had not acted on orders to revive graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
A five-judge bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa issued the show cause notice under Article 204 of the Constitution, which relates to contempt of court, and observed that the premier should comply with the court's repeated orders and approach Swiss authorities to reopen the cases against the President.
Justice Khosa remarked that it would be good if there is progress in the matter by the next hearing on August 27 or else the apex court would take action on its own.
The bench noted that the government had persistently and deliberately ignored its order to revive the graft cases.
The court pointed out that it had already issued an order when contempt of court proceedings were underway against former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani in which the premier was asked to disregard the advice from the Law Ministry and to approach the Swiss authorities without further consultations with legal experts.
The court said Gilani deliberately violated the court's orders and did not write to the Swiss authorities, leading to his disqualification after being convicted of contempt.
The bench observed that Ashraf was acting in the same manner.
Attorney General Irfan Qadir sought more time from the court and asked that the case be adjourned till the first week of September as it was of a "sensitive nature".
The court denied his request and said he had been given adequate time.
In a related development, the government on Wednesday filed a petition seeking a review of the apex court's recent order that annulled a new Contempt of Court Act that was passed by parliament to prevent Ashraf's possible disqualification.
Abdul Shakoor Paracha, the government's lawyer, told reporters that the appeal had been filed on Wednesday morning.
The top leadership of the ruling Pakistan People's Party decided during a meeting held on Tuesday that it would not approach Swiss authorities to reopen the cases against the President and that it would "resist" actions by the Supreme Court while remaining within the ambit of the Constitution.
Ashraf became the premier when the apex court disqualified Gilani on June 19 after convicting him of contempt for refusing to reopen the multi-million-dollar cases against Zardari.
The court has been pressuring the government to revive the cases since December 2009, when it struck down a graft amnesty that benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others.
The government has refused to act, saying the President enjoys immunity in Pakistan and abroad.