Pakistan top court found Prime Minister guilty of contempt, briefly imprisoned

Pakistan top court found Prime Minister guilty of contempt, briefly imprisoned

Islamabad : Pakistan | Apr 26, 2012 at 4:40 AM PDT
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Inside Story - Who is Pakistan's supreme court really after?

ISLAMABAD, April 26: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday at last dropped its hammer on the fate of beleaguered Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani by ruling that `he is found guilty and convicted for contempt of court' and ordered for his imprisonment till rising of the court.

The eventful morning on the Constitutional Avenue, the main hub of Pakistan politics which also housed the Parliament, President and Prime Minister's House and Supreme Court, witnessed a flurry of activities as federal cabinet members, PPP legislators and allied parties leaders accompanied the accused premier to Court for hearing of his fate.

The bench headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk in somber and macabre voice hands down the short judgment in the presence of Prime Minister in the courtroom filled to its capacity.

The verdict finds premier guilty of `willful flouting, disregard and disobedience of this Court's direction' in NRO case. "After our satisfaction that the contempt committed by him is substantially detrimental to the administration of justice and tend to bring this Court and the judiciary of this country into ridicule."

He was convicted under relevant laws of contempt of Court ordinance 2003 and Article 204 of the Constitution and confined for 30 seconds. Gilani was wearing national offiical dress 'Sherwani' and stood calm and composed while hearing his fate.

Later a high level meeting of PPP chaired jointly by president Asif Ali Zardari and PM Gilani, the participants expressed its dismay over judicial order by saying that a democratically elected chief executive was punished for holding the constitution supreme while the dictators had gone scot-free from their unconstitutional coercive measures.

However, the judgment gives rise to diverse legal opinions among the legal minds, some saying that the judgment leads to automatic ouster of the premier from his office as under section 3 of the contempt law, he is no more legally and constitutionally entitled to cling to his post whereas the other sect of opinion terms the order ambiguous as it does not directly frame him as ineligible to hold public office.

The contempt provision deals with disqualification of the member of parliament and in the case, it has a set procedure under which the case of a guilty legislator is sent to speaker of National Assembly who will forward it to the Chief Election Commissioner within a month for final step and the latter would taken a decision within a period of ninety days.

During the period, Gilani could avail the opportunity to remain in his office for four months.

However, sharp reaction from the opposition parties led by Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister, has demanded immediate stepping down of the guilty prime minister by saying that he has no moral grounds for retaining his office.

Real challenged for the PPP led government lies ahead as it has to face growing diatribe from the masses, politicians and media for allowing a convicted chief executive of the country to remain at the helms of affairs.

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Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
Erfan khan is based in Islamabad, Federal Capital Area, Pakistan, and is a Reporter on Allvoices.
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