MIAN DAWOOD

LAHORE – Some law experts say that President Zardari may face impeachment proceedings if he pardons a holder of a public office who has been convicted by the Supreme Court. However some others are of the view that he can suspend the sentence under Article 45 of the Constitution.

Talking to The Nation, Justice(r) Tariq Mahmood says that Supreme Court can grant only six month sentence to a public office holder under contempt of court ordinance 1976, while the disqualification of any member of national assembly (MNA) including Prime Minister needs two year conviction by the apex court. He says rulers have crushed all the moral limits.

Mr Mahmood explains his point of views as that president can pardon any public office holder according to Article 45 of Constitution of Pakistan, which states “The President shall have power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority.”

Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Muhammad Yaseen Azad has also agreed with Tariq Mahmood’s analysis that president of Pakistan has powers to pardon a public office holder (parliamentarian) under Article 45. If someone is not happy with the power of president, then parliament should have to remove the Article 45 of the constitution, he says during talk with The Nation.

Constitutional expert Muhammad Azhar Siddque says that president of Pakistan has no powers to pardon convictions mentioned in Article 63(1) (g). He points out that there is difference between normal conviction and a conviction under contempt of court as three type of convictions has been used by the Article 63 (1)(g). Article 63 (1)(g) states “A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), if he has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction for propagating any opinion, or acting in any manner, prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or morality, or the maintenance of public order, or the integrity or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the Armed Forces of Pakistan, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release.” And, Mr Siddique says, if president pardon any of the minister or parliamentarian in view of these three convictions, the president of Pakistan would violate its oath in schedule three read with Article 42 of the constitution. Therefore, in consequences the president may face impeachment/removal proceedings in view of the article 47 of the constitution.

“If president exercises the powers under the Article 45 to pardon, it would infringe the independence of the judiciary as contempt of court powers has been constitutionally protected in Article 204 of the constitution and thereafter punishable under Sec 4 of contemtn of court ordinance 2003,” Mr Siddique says.

He says sentence and conviction has different meanings but some law experts interpret the same meaning of sentence and conviction.

Opposing her president’s views, SCBA Vice President says that SC is superior to other three pillars of the county. It is true that president has powers to pardon the public office holder, but, he cannot use Article 45 to pardon contemptuous person or convicts. If president suspend any public office holder’s conviction awarded by apex court, then president will act against the constitution and may be declared as contemptuous person and may face impeachment proceeding.Everyone should respect the orders of the apex court if it award conviction to any public office holder, she further says.

SCBA Secretary Muhammad Aslam Zar says that president can suspend the sentence but can not pardon the conviction awarded by the apex court. He speaks that violation of apex court’s order will led the clam among the institutions.

After the court orders, the convict will have to resign from his public office, Mr Zar further says.

Members of Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) have said that president has powers to pardon the conviction of public office holders. Nasim Riaz Advocate says that any pardoned convict can continue his office because his conviction either compoundable or non-compoundable has been suspended by president according his constitutional powers granted under Article 45.

Babar Waheen Advocate says any parliamentarian either prime minister or a minister can retain his position if he is being convicted by SC and pardoned by president.However, Chaudhary Ishtiaq Advocate says that the conviction will stand despite its suspension by the president.

No doubt, president has power under Article 45 to waive the conviction, but he can use these powers optionally, Advocate further says.