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SC has no role in disqualification of PM: Pak AG

By Rezaul H Laskar
June 19, 2012 01:07 IST
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The Pakistan government's top law officer told the supreme court on Monday it had no role to play in the disqualification of the prime minister, which could be decided only by the National Assembly speaker or the election commission.

Attorney General Irfan Qadir made the remarks while presenting his arguments on several petitions challenging Speaker Fehmida Mirza's decision not to disqualify Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani following his conviction of contempt by the apex court.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is hearing petitions filed by the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf. The premier was convicted and given a symbolic sentence of less than a minute in April for refusing to act on the apex court's orders to revive graft cases in Switzerland against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The Attorney General further contended that the seven-judge bench which convicted the Prime Minister had acted beyond its jurisdiction by raising the issue of his possible disqualification as it was only supposed to examine whether Gilani had committed contempt.

"The issue before the bench was not the disqualification of the prime minister but it was required to decide whether he has committed any contempt or not," Qadir said.

The Attorney General said the apex court was accepting many arguments from the petitioners but was not accepting his contentions.

All aspects of the issue had been taken care of by the speaker and there was currently no contempt of court law in Pakistan, Qadir said.

The prime minister could not be held guilty for as the order for reopening the graft cases could not be implemented in view of the immunity enjoyed by the President, he added.

The chief justice warned Qadir to be wary of his statements as he was becoming critical of the judges. The attorney general, however, stuck to his arguments and said all the petitions challenging the Speaker's actions should be dismissed as the petitioners had not approached the court with "clean hands" and only wanted to settle political scores.

Earlier, Gilani's lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan concluded his arguments and said the petitioners had not established how their fundamental rights had been violated by the speaker's ruling on the issue of disqualifying the premier.

"The respondent (Gilani) is not convicted for a offence or sentenced, which could have disqualified him. Every conviction does not mean disqualification," Ahsan said.

"I will say with great humility and respect that the court has no powers to disqualify a member of parliament. The case is to be sent to the Speaker whereas jurisdiction of the election commission could not be invoked directly without a reference from the Speaker," he added.

The government also submitted the response of the speaker, who requested the supreme court to reject the petitions. Mirza said the National Assembly speaker's ruling or decision is final on the issue of disqualifying a parliamentarian.

The case was subsequently adjourned until Tuesday.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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