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PM must be aware of the cost of mistrust: CJ

Supreme Court ISLAMABAD: The government has taken what appeared to be a position to challenge the Supreme Court on Friday strongly defended President Asif Ali Zardari, who is also co-chair of the arrest of PPP.

The Prosecutor General informed the court that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, the director general, has approved a summary of which suggests that the case against the president could not be reopened in the Swiss courts.

“A summary sent to the prime minister has been approved,” Attorney General Molvi Anwarul Haq told a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Tariq Parvez and Justice Ghulam Rabbani. He claimed privilege, saying contents of the summary should not be disclosed.

The court had taken up a case relating to implementation of its verdict on the National Reconciliation Ordinance. The judgment requires the reopening of $60 million money-laundering cases involving President Zardari in Swiss courts.

“The prime minister is a wise man and he should know the consequences as well (of not implementing the court orders),” the chief justice observed and, after listening to the AG, said: “If you start deviating from the Constitution, you are not doing (this) for yourself, but you are telling someone else. The system has been restored with great difficulty.”

The chief justice said the court ruling on the NRO should be implemented word-by-word to ensure the supremacy of law.

At the last hearing, the court had summoned Law Secretary Masood Chisti and ordered him to complete a summary seeking a fresh executive decision by the prime minister on implementing the NRO verdict.

The summary was required to be written by the law ministry in line with paragraph 178 of the NRO judgment which says: “Since the NRO 2007 stands declared void-ab-initio, actions taken or suffered under the said law are also non est (unconstitutional) in law and since the communications addressed by Malik Muhammad Qayyum to various foreign fora/authorities/courts withdrawing the requests earlier made by the Government of Pakistan for mutual legal assistance; surrendering the status of civil party; abandoning the claims to the allegedly laundered moneys lying in foreign countries, including Switzerland, have also been declared by us to be unauthorised and illegal communications and consequently of no legal effect, therefore, it is declared that the initial requests for mutual legal assistance; securing the status of civil party and the claims lodged to the allegedly laundered moneys lying in foreign countries, including Switzerland, are declared never to have been withdrawn.

“Therefore the federal government and other concerned authorities are ordered to take immediate steps to seek revival of the said requests, claims and status.”

The summary sent to the prime minister states that the president is an indivisible part of parliament and supreme commander of the armed forces. Besides, he enjoys constitutional immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution. Therefore, no case could be tried against him inside and outside the country.

Allegations of money-laundering are past and a closed transaction and even the cases in Swiss courts are time-barred.

The government has used a statement made by Swiss Attorney General Daniel Zappelli in an interview in April this year that even if the Swiss authorities received a proper request from Pakistan with all the required stances through an official channel, the Swiss government could not reopen the cases because of the sovereign immunity enjoyed by a head of state.

Earlier, Law Minister Babar Awan had told a SC bench that the prime minister was seized with the tricky issue of reopening Swiss cases, but there were some “grey areas and legal intricacies”.

On Friday, the attorney general informed the court that the summary would be submitted to the court by Monday. He said he had been informed this morning that the prime minister had approved the proposal sent to him through the summary.

The chief justice observed that the summary became important after approval by the prime minister. The court had to see whether the prime minister had approved the court judgment in letter and spirit or deviated from it, he said.

“We have to see whether he (the prime minister) sits upon the judgment or has implemented it. You know the verdict has to be implemented with full force. If there is a rule of law in the court, you have to implement judgments of the court. If you take decisions on your own, it affects others as well,” the chief justice observed.

He said the prime minister being a wise man should know the consequences as well, adding that tomorrow a criminal could also defy the court orders.

“When there is a verdict it has to be implemented. If you implement the decision it is good and if you don’t we have to see what to do,” the chief justice said, adding that judges always sat in the court with open mind.

The court adjourned the matter for Sept 27 with a direction to submit details of the summary.

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