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February 4, 2012

Four appeals likely to outlive PM’s term, says Iqbal Haider

National

February 4, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Former Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Iqbal Haider has said no serious threat or adverse orders are apprehended either against the president or the prime minister in consequence of the contempt proceedings pending in the Supreme Court against Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, says a press release issued on Friday.
He said the premier had the right to file at least four appeals under the constitution and laws including the Supreme Court rules, and equal number of review petitions, if felt aggrieved by any order of the Supreme Court.
Iqbal Hiader said the disposal of the appeals and review petitions might take several months, if not years depending upon the treatment the Supreme Court might give.
“The premier, his learned counsel and the attorney general have already decided to file an appeal against the February 2 order of the Supreme Court. If this appeal is admitted I am afraid the next hearing on February 13 may be deferred until disposal of this appeal by the apex court. Thereby, the critical month of March and mostly likely many more months thereafter will pass without any adverse order in the contempt proceedings.”
Haider, who is also a former senator, said it was reported that limitation under the Swiss Law to reopen the case was likely to expire by mid of March 2012. “After that, even if the government writes the letter to the Swiss authorities, in terms directed by the court, it will not be of any effect or consequence,” he added.
He said if the proposed appeal of the premier was dismissed in-limine, then the premier might appear before the court on February 13.
“Framing of the charges and commencement of prosecution can again be assailed by the premier through another appeal, which is likely to result in suspension of prosecution proceedings until disposal of this appeal, which may take another several months, if not years.”
Former Senator Haider emphasised that even under the worst scenario assuming

that the premier was finally convicted within a matter of weeks, which was highly unlikely, the premier would again have the remedy to filing another appeal against the conviction. He said Prime Minister Gilani might continue to hold the Office during the pendency of this appeal as well.
Assuming that the final appeal and review petition against his conviction are also dismissed, even then the premier may continue to hold his office until final declaration of disqualified by the Election Commission under Article 63(1) of the Constitution. Again Prime Minister Gilani will have the legal remedy to assail even this order of his disqualification, which is likely to be suspended by the apex court during the pendency of his appeal. In the meantime, the term of the premier as well as of the assembly would most likely expire, which shall have bearing on the pendency of the proceedings against the premier.
Lastly, assuming Prime Minister Gilani fails in all his appeals and review petitions and ceases to be a member of the National Assembly as well as the prime minister, he may undergo the punishment that the honourable court may pronounce. However, the main issue of implementation of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the NRO case, about writing of letter to the Swiss authorities, shall remain unaccomplished, which was the real object of the apex court in persuading the premier to write that letter.
Haider highlighted a fact that the Supreme Court had been showing tremendous judicial restraint in pursuing any show cause notice of contempt to their logical end, even in cases of contempt against not so important provincial office-bearers of the PPP. “In view this precedent of the apex court, it would be a just and fair to draw the conclusion that the Supreme Court is not likely to pass any extreme adverse orders against the premier as well. Consequently, all this hullabaloo and controversy around the said contempt proceedings, unfortunately are likely to end in an exercise in futility,” he concluded.

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