LAHORE (MIAN DAWOOD) - A five-member bench of the Lahore High Court  headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial will hear today a contempt petition against President Asif Ali Zardari for not shunning political activities in the Presidency and the political office of the PPP co-chairman in light of a court order issued earlier on May 12 last year.

Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh, Justice Sheikh Najam-ul-Hasan, Ijazul Ahsan and Sayed Mansoor Ali Shah are the other members of the bench. Previously on June 27, a three-member full bench had given another opportunity to President Zardari to disassociate his office from political activities. The petition was moved by Munir Ahmad through Muhammad Azhar Siddique and AK Dogar against the president for holding political office and political activities in violation of the LHC’s full bench order.

The petitioner submitted that the use of Presidency for partisan political activities by Zardari was not only illegal but also contempt of the orders of court dated May 12, 2011, as defined in Article 204 of the Constitution.

Against the contempt petition, however, President Zardari has not submitted so far his reply, indicating the five-member bench may issue a show-cause notice to him today or on the next hearings which ultimately leads towards his conviction and disqualification after initiating contempt proceedings against him.

The petitioner’s counsels, while talking to TheNation, said they would argue today before the bench regarding the issuance of a show-cause notice to Zardari because the LHC had already given suitable time to the only respondent for explaining his stance against the contempt petition, and now there should be no second chance for him.

Meanwhile, the petitioner on Tuesday filed a civil miscellaneous (CM) application seeking permission to make the relevant documents part of judicial record regarding the contempt petition against Zardari. Of the documents in the CM, the petitioner says, while quoting one, that as far as the matter of initiating contempt of court proceedings in view of Article 248 of Constitution with respect to claiming any immunity was concerned, it had been disregarded in a case reported as PLD 1975 SC 383 (Chaudhry Zahur and others verses Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and others). In this judgment the apex court headed by then chief justice Hamood-ur-Rehman held that contempt of court proceedings were sui-generis in nature partaking of some of the elements of both civil and criminal proceedings.

He further says the federal government had attempted for exemption from contempt of court proceedings against the persons, referred in Article 248 of the Constitution, by introducing Contempt of Court Act, 2012 which was later turned down by the apex court. Therefore, the contempt of court petition can be initiated against President Zardari, petitioner’s counsel maintains.

Meanwhile, Wasim Sajjad will appear before the court today on behalf of the president.