ISLAMABAD: A seven-member special bench of the Supreme Court (SC) headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk resumed the contempt of court proceedings against Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani as well as its implementation order on the infamous National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) Tuesday, Geo News reported.
PM Gilani’s counsel Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan continued his arguments before the SC bench as he has only two days left to convince the bench in favour of his client.
The SC on Monday termed the NAB report on the non-implementation of the NRO verdict unsatisfactory and sent a clear warning that only the rule of law and Constitution would prevail in the country instead of one-man rule.
During the course of proceedings in the NRO case, Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa remarked that the bench was sending a loud and clear message that only the rule of law and Constitution would prevail in the country now.
Shaiq Usmani, the counsel for the NAB chairman, appeared before the court on notice and submitted a report on the appointment of Adnan A Khwaja and Ahmed Riaz Shaikh. The court, however, rejected the report, terming it unsatisfactory and directed the NAB authorities to submit the report with more details of the appointments by April 24.
Shaiq Usmani told the court that the prime minister was not aware of Adnan A Khwaja's convictions while appointing him the OGDCL managing director and chairman of an another organisation. He said the PM appointed him in his capacity as the chief executive but was not aware that Khwaja was a convicted person, adding that the Establishment secretary had concealed this information from the premier.
Justice Khosa, however, reminded the counsel that Adnan A Khawaja was not a convicted person, but an NRO beneficiary while he was appointed the chairman of the National Vocational Training Commission (Navtec). Justice Khosa further said that even the Secretary Establishment had confirmed this to the court.
He further said when Khwaja was appointed as the OGDCL MD, the prime minister knew that Khwaja was a convicted person. Shaiq Usmani submitted that investigation was underway and officials, including Khalid Akhlaq and former Secretary Establishment Ismael Qurashi, were all involved in the appointment of Adnan Khwaja while Interior Acting Secretary Raja Ahsan, Section Officer Maqbool Ahmed Malik, Uroojul Hassan and former Secretary Establishment, Ismael Qurashi were involved in the appointment of Ahmed Riaz Shaikh. He said these officials had concealed from the premier that both these officials were convicts.
Justice Khosa remarked that those who had connections with 'big people' got away scot-free while persons without influence and connections were accused. The learned counsel agreed to this, but Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmani observed that this impression must be removed since the law was equal for all.
Referring to former Attorney General Malik Qayyum's absence from the court, the NAB counsel submitted that according to information provided by Malik Qayyum's son, the former attorney general was under treatment in London. He submitted that despite serving various notices to him, he had failed so far to come before the court. He further submitted that the NAB had sought a report from the Pakistani High Commission in London on the health of Malik Qayyum.
On the court's query, the counsel said that if Malik Qayyum failed to come forward, a re-warrant would be issued against him.The court gave explicit instructions that effective steps must be taken to present former Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayum before the court.
Earlier, the court also rejected an application by the PM's counsel, Aitzaz Ahsan, in which he had pleaded that no decision be announced in the non-implementation of the NRO verdict until the decision on the president's immunity was announced. "Let me complete the arguments in the contempt case first; otherwise, my arguments would be of no use after a decision on the NRO is announced," Aitzaz said.
Justice Nasirul Mulk, however, noted that the prime minister had also requested to delay the verdict in the NRO non-implementation case.
Aitzaz argued that no decision could be given by the court without properly hearing the accused. He contended that under Article 187 of the Constitution, it was the responsibility of the high court to get the apex court verdicts implemented. He contended that the apex court could not hear the NRO implementation case, reiterating that judges who issued show cause notice to the premier were not competent to hear the contempt proceedings.
During the hearing, Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany observed that the implementation of the NRO judgment was an issue of national interest. Aitizaz, however, said that producing President Zardari before the Swiss magistrate was also against the national interest. Later, the court adjourned the hearing in the contempt case till today (Tuesday).