Amid controversy over Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's dual office, the Lahore high court on Wednesday issued a notice to him to explain by September 14 why he had not followed its direction to relinquish the political post of co-chairman of the ruling Pakistan People's Party.
A four-judge bench headed by the High Court Chief Justice Umar Atta Bandial issued the notice to the President through his principal secretary.
"We ask the President to tell the court as to why he did not follow the high court's direction of leaving political office of his party," Bandial said.
He further said: "The president should inform the court if he thinks that the petition against his holding of two offices is not maintainable."
The petition challenging the holding of two offices by Zardari was to be heard by a five-member bench but one of the judges, Mansoor Ali Shah, went on leave hours before the hearing.
Additional Attorney General Abdul Hai Gilani and lawyer Wasim Sajjad represented the federal government during the hearing.
Gilani told the court that Attorney General Irfan Qadir was to appear before the bench but he had to go to Balochistan in connection with another crucial case.
"The attorney general will appear in the next hearing to file a reply," he said.
Judicial Activism Panel Chairman Muhammad Azhar Siddique had filed a contempt of court petition against the president for holding a political office and indulging in political activities in the presidency in apparent violation of an order issued by the high court last year.
Siddique's counsel A K Dogar, who is also the lawyer for Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed, argued that the federal government could not defend the case as Zardari would have to appoint his own lawyer for the purpose.
"It is a contempt of court case and under the law, the federal government cannot defend the president. The president should appoint a lawyer to plead his case," he argued.
Dogar said Zardari should tell the court as to why he was not implementing its order regarding the relinquishing of one office.
He claimed directions issued by the court had not been followed and that Zardari had not stopped 'misusing' the presidency.
He claimed the use of the presidency for partisan political activities was illegal and amounted to contempt of court.
He asked the court to 'punish' the President for contempt.Following the argument by both sides, the high court adjourned the proceedings until September 14.