SC topples PPP govt
* Court says PM’s conviction has attained finality as no appeal was filed against the judgement
* Rules that Gilani has become disqualified from being member of parliament, also ceased to be prime minister with effect from April 26
* Says president is required to take necessary steps under constitution to ensure continuation of democratic process
By Hasnaat Malik
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday disqualified prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, in what was the culmination of a two-and-a-half-year-long clash between judiciary and executive, but the issue regarding the implementation of the apex court’s December 16, 2009, judgement on NRO remains unresolved.
The SC said a bench of seven judges through its judgement dated April, 26, 2012, followed by the detailed reasons released on May 8, 2012, had found Yousaf 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 until the rising of the court under Section 5 of the said ordinance, and since no appeal was filed against the judgement, the conviction has attained finality.
“Therefore, Syed Yousaf 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 judgement of this court dated 26.04.2012 with all consequences, ie 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.”
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, disposed of petitions of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz central leader Khawaja Asif and others against the National Assembly speaker’s May 24 ruling on the issue of Gilani’s conviction in the contempt of court case.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was asked to issue notification of disqualification of Gilani from being a member of parliament with effect from April 26, 2012. “The president of Pakistan is required to take necessary steps under the constitution to ensure continuation of the democratic process through parliamentary system of government in the country,” the court noted in its two-page short order and observed that reasons for it would be recorded later on.
The court observed that neither the speaker nor the Election Commission of Pakistan could sit on the Supreme Court judgements. It noted that the speaker should not have travelled beyond her authority to find faults in the apex court judgement. The 30-day time given in the constitution to the speaker had also lapsed, therefore she should have sent the matter to the ECP, it noted, adding that if the executive scrutinised the judgement of a seven-member bench, how would it reflect on the concept of independence of judiciary.
The bench held that the court in exercise of jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan was competent to ensure enforcement of the fundamental rights of the citizens in all matters of public importance. The judgement said that the speaker of the National Assembly under Article 63(2) of the constitution exercised her powers on the disqualification of the prime minister, which are not covered by the definition of internal proceedings of parliament, therefore, the court, in exercise of power of judicial review, was not debarred from inquiring into the order dated May 25, 2012.
Earlier, during the proceedings, Attorney General Irfan Qadir argued that clash between institutions should be averted. The chief justice said, “We have great respect for parliament and are for its dignity and honour but we have to see the implementation of constitution.” He observed that if an appeal had been filed against the seven-member bench’s judgement, the matter of PM’s disqualification could have been deferred for some time. Separately, the ECP issued a formal notice disqualifying Prime Minister Gilani as a member of parliament as ordered by the Supreme Court. The commission backdated the disqualification to April 26, the date that Gilani was convicted of contempt.