ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani Thursday defended himself against contempt charges before the Supreme Court (SC), refusing to apologise in a case that could see him disqualified from office if convicted.
It is only the second time that the apex court has initiated contempt proceedings against a sitting prime minister.
The court summoned Prime Minister Gilani to explain his refusal to ask Switzerland to re-open graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Giving his point of view before the seven-member bench, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said the president enjoys complete immunity, not only in Pakistan but also in the world as enunciated by the Constitution.
He said that he could not even think of dishonouring or disgracing the court.
PM Gilani said he appeared in person to comply with court orders that indicated his respect and honour for the court.
About writing letter to Swiss Courts for opening of the cases, the premier said the president enjoys immunity within Pakistan and abroad, therefore, he did not write letter to the Swiss court.
"It will not give a good message to proceed against a president who is elected by a two-thirds majority."
He said the leaders of PPP always respected and honoured the courts and complied with its orders.
Gilani said Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Begum Nusrat Bhutto also appeared before the courts that indicated the respect and honour of these courts by the leaders.
He said the presence of leaders of coalition partners in the court, is the reflective of their respect for judiciary.
The prime minister said Benazir Bhutto was a great leader and politician, and he was following her mission.
He said the country is united and integrated due to the 1973 Constitution that has been restored by the present government in its original form.
Justice Asif Khosa, appreciating presence of Prime Minister Gilani in the court, said it indicated that there is rule of law as the Chief Executive of the country appeared in the court.
PM Gilani along with other leaders and his Cabinet members attended the court proceedings and personally presented his point of view before the bench.
He said he and President Asif Zardari had to face imprisonment but they never did any dishonour to the courts.
During proceedings, Aitzaz Ahsan said I am here only to defend PM Gilani, not Secretary Law.
'Only Law Secretary can inform why he did not write a summary detailing the president's immunity.'
He further said that until Asif Zardari is holding the office of president, letter cannot be written to Swiss authorities as he enjoys immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution.
Supreme Court's verdict will be implemented when President Asif Ali Zardari is no longer president, said Aitzaz Ashan. This is not a normal case and need one month time to prepare, he pleaded.
Justice Khosa said the bench must be informed if anyone has immunity.
Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk remarked that these are merely preliminary proceedings and time has not come for the indictment.
Justice Usmani asked PM's counsel Aitzaz Ahsan that will the government write a letter to the Swiss authorities if it is proved that the president does not have immunity.
The court condoned the prime minister from court proceedings and adjourned the hearing till February 01.