Letter can’t be written to Swiss authorities: Aitzaz
ISLAMABAD: Concluding his arguments in a contempt case against Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Aitzaz Ahsan told the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday that under law, a letter could neither be written against the president nor should it be written.
“If according to your stance, the president enjoys immunity then why a letter is not being written [to Swiss authorities]?” a seven-member SC bench, headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk, asked Aitzaz.
Aitzaz contended that writing a letter to reopen graft cases against the president would be embarrassing for the nation. “Impeach the president… there will be a way out for writing the letter,” he added.
He said that the prime minister did not write a letter while acting on a summary from the Law Ministry. He said his client thought that a letter could not be written against the president because he enjoyed absolute immunity until he was holding office of the president.
The court said that the point of immunity was not raised at the stage of review against the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) judgement.
Justice Ijaz Afzal said that the prime minister was firm on not obeying court’s orders.
“Can anyone say that he will implement the court’s order by his own will?” he asked.
Aitzaz said that writing a letter was tantamount to withdrawing immunity of the president.
To a court’s query, he said a letter should not be written until Asif Ali Zardari held office of the president.
Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa said that it seemed the prime minister would not write a letter during his tenure.
“If it happens, everyone will do so on different pretexts,” Justice Muhammad Ather Saeed said. Aitzaz said that the court’s earlier order, pertaining to writing a letter without any summary or advice, should not come into effect in the present case.
“The president is the symbol of federation, the most important component of parliament and the supreme commander of armed forces, therefore, he cannot be exposed to jeopardy of a foreign magistrate,” the lawyer said.
He said dignity of the office of the head of the state and sovereignty of the state demanded to be protected at any cost.
Aitzaz said the conduct of the prime minister was not contemptuous as he had no intention to flout the judgement of the Supreme Court. He said orders of the Supreme Court needed to be implemented and even the judgement in the NRO case relating to a letter to Swiss authorities must and would be implemented after the relinquishment of office by the president. The court adjourned hearing until Tuesday, and directed the attorney general, who is acting as prosecutor in the contempt case, to start his arguments at the next hearing.
Later, talking to the media, Aitzaz said that a new bench should be constituted to hear the contempt of court case against the prime minister.
He said that under Article 10-A of the constitution, the bench presently hearing the case could not do so as it had initiated the proceedings on its own.
He said he still expected the court would not ask the prime minister to write a letter to Swiss authorities. He said the court’s orders would be implemented once Asif Ali Zardari was no longer the president. He said parliament was independent and could make constitutional amendments, adding that parliament could nullify any order of the court. Regarding his arguments, he said that he cut short his arguments and cited various decisions of top courts of the United States, India and Pakistan before the bench.
Aitzaz said evidence was must in a criminal case and there was no such evidence in the record which was submitted to the bench by the attorney general.
He said mere knowledge could not be assumed as evidence in criminal case of serious charges. “We just want supremacy of law and constitution rather than doctrine of necessity,” he added.