Gilani no more PM, rules SC
Posted on 11 months ago
President asked to take steps for continuation of democratic process
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday declared convicted Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani as disqualified to become member of the Parliament from April 26.
"Yusuf Raza Gilani is disqualified from membership of parliament from April 26, the date of his conviction. He has also ceased to be the prime minister of Pakistan," said chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, reading the order.
"The Election Commission shall issue a notice of disqualification and the President is required to take necessary steps to ensure continuation of democratic process," he added.
The apex court was seized with identical petitions challenging NA Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza's rulings not to send a reference for the prime minister's disqualification to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and comprising Justice Jawad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain heard the identical petitions, filed by the PML-N, Tehreek-e-Insaf and others against the NA Speaker's ruling over the disqualification of the prime minister.
During course of hearing, the Chief Justice remarked that PM Gilani's conviction could have been suspended if it was challenged. 'Only the appellate court can review a judicial ruling, no one can wipe away a judicial ruling.'
The bench in its short order stated that "This Court in exercise of jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan is competent to ensure enforcement of the fundamental rights of the citizens in all matters of public importance."
The court added that the Speaker of the National Assembly under Article 63(2) of the Constitution exercises powers, which are not covered by the definition of internal proceedings of Majlis-e-Shoora, therefore, this Court, in exercise of power of judicial review, is not debarred from inquiring into the order dated 25.05.2012.
It further maintained as a Bench of seven Hon'ble Judges vide judgment dated 26.04.2012 followed by the detailed reasons released on 08.05.2012 has found Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani guilty of contempt of Court under Article 204(2) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 read with section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment till rising of the Court under section 5 of the said Ordinance, and since no appeal was filed against this judgment, the conviction has attained finality. "Therefore, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has become disqualified from being a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) in terms of Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution on and from the date and time of pronouncement of the judgment of this Court dated 26.04.2012 with all consequences, i.e. he has also ceased to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan with effect from the said date and the office of the Prime Minister shall be deemed to be vacant accordingly", the court maintained.
The court directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to issue notification of disqualification of Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani from being a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora w.e.f. 26.4.2012 and asked the President to take necessary steps under the Constitution to ensure continuation of the democratic process through parliamentary system of government in the country.
Earlier, concluding his arguments in the Speaker's ruling case, Attorney General Irfan Qadir said that the immunity provided to Gilani cannot be taken away by anyone but the Parliament and that he was not answerable to any court. Speaking before a three-member bench of the Supreme Court hearing the petitions filed against the speaker's ruling in the prime minister contempt case, AG Qadir said that the petitions were being politicised and that the Supreme Court's autonomy will be questioned if it hears such petitions.
The bench observed that being an attorney general, Qadir should assist the court proceedings, rather than defending a party.
The attorney general also said that the contempt of court law was made in the colonial era when the sub-continent was operating under the British rule.
Earlier, Qadir had said that the judges who announced the verdict of the contempt case against Gilani were "more inclined towards disqualifying him" than deciding whether it was a contempt case or not.
He had said the parliament has the right to reject court's decision if it decides against the Speaker's ruling.
The attorney general had also presented a resolution of the parliament before the bench, which stated that the parliament had confidence in the speaker, Dr Fehmida Mirza's decision.
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain had observed that the job of the court was to interpret law and that it will continue doing so "no matter what anyone thinks". The chief justice had said that the court respected the parliament and that they should do their job while the court does its own.
AG Qadir had said that if the court takes a decision against the Speaker's ruling, then it will create a conflict between institutions. Justice Chaudhry replied saying that there is no conflict between institutions. The attorney general had read out an article written by a judge of the Indian Supreme Court that stated that people are free to criticise the judges and discuss about them. Justice Arif had interrupted him and had said that he should discuss the case than wasting the court's time.
The petitions, including those filed by PML-N and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), had challenged the speaker's ruling and demanded prime minister's disqualification after he was convicted of contempt by the apex court.
Gilani, Pakistan's first ever sitting prime minister to be convicted, has faced down widespread calls from the opposition to quit. He has said that only parliament can remove him from office.
Under the constitution, anyone convicted of defaming or ridiculing the judiciary is barred from being an MP.
The matter of disqualification fell first to the speaker of parliament, Fehmida Mirza, a member of the main ruling Pakistan People's Party, who on May 24 said conviction for contempt was not a charge that meant he should be disqualified under the constitution.
Gilani subsequently decided not to appeal his conviction in a move interpreted as an effort not to antagonise the court into disqualifying him. But senior opposition politicians, including Imran Khan and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, challenged the ruling. The allegations against Zardari date back to the 1990s, when he and his late wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto, are suspected of using Swiss bank accounts to launder about $12 million allegedly paid in bribes by companies seeking customs inspection contracts.
The Swiss shelved the cases in 2008 when Zardari became president. Gilani has always insisted Zardari has full immunity as head of state and last month said that writing to the Swiss would be a violation of the constitution.
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