ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court has given five more days to the federal government to draft Swiss letter in accordance with the true spirit of para 178 of the NRO judgment, for sending it to the Swiss authorities to reopen cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
The SC further said that things could become worst after five days if court orders are not followed.
Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, heading a five-member bench, said that in the last hearing they had upheld that most of the relevant issues appeared to have been sorted out, but some remained unresolved which need to be attended by the government.
Justice Khosa stated: “We ask the government to again submit an improved draft letter in the next hearing and if it does not fulfill the court’s requirement, things could become worst on Oct 10.”
The court directed Federal Law Minister Farooq H Naek to produce improved draft letter on the next hearing. However, the minister refused to give any commitment that the draft of the letter would be improved further.
It is pertinent to mention here that in the previous hearing final opportunity was given to the government to revise the draft letter in accordance with para 178 of the NRO judgment by October 5,otherwise contempt of court proceedings would be resumed against Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf forthwith.
At the outset of the proceedings, Naek submitted revised draft letter and said the draft has been prepared as per observations of the court and para 178 of the NRO judgment. “Kindly go through it,” he asked the judges.
He said: “I am appearing before the court as representative of the government and not as a private party.”
He said it is in the interest of the country that the system must go on and for that we should work in unison, adding that the country is facing many challenges.
“……We expect the court to understand the genuine concerns of the federal government and sensitivity of the matter as it wants the matter must come to an end.”
Naek also said: “I want justice should be left to the people.”
The judges after examining the draft retired for few minutes and discussed the matter in the chambers. About 10 minutes later, they came back.
Justice Khosa said: “We have pondered deeply over the draft and found first two paras of the letter in consonance and the spirit of para 178 of the NRO judgment, but the last paragraph goes contrary what has been written in first two paras.”
Naek said the court should be conscious of the fact that it is a long journey and we have reached at a stage that should not go waste.
Justice Khosa said: “We have in the last hearing said that it is the last opportunity but we also don’t want that all the efforts should go waste.”
Justice Khosa further said: “I genuinely feel that we are inches away from a perfect solution as the saga is lingering on since long,” adding, “If we are so close then this exercise should not go waste.”
Naek said in order to understand the court reservations and to convey to your concern to the Prime Minister, it would be appreciated if audience in the chamber is granted for 15 minutes.
At 12 pm, when the judges again heard the matter in courtroom, Justice Khosa dictated the order, which stated that Farooq H Naek will consult the Prime Minister regarding the observations of the court and to produce improved draft letter.
However, the Minister said he couldn’t give commitment that the draft would be improved.
On the request of the federal minister, the case was adjourned till October 10.
Later, talking to the media, Naek said he had sought more time from the court as a final decision will have to be made “keeping in mind democracy, integrity and institutions of the country” so that “hostile forces” cannot derail the democratic system.
He made it clear that he had not given any commitment to the court about improving the draft letter.
Naek refused to comment on whether the judges had any objections regarding the President’s immunity.
“We (the government) are completely flexible. Keeping everything in mind, we have sought more time. There should be flexibility on both sides,” he added.
The Minister stated that the Constitution gave ‘complete immunity’ to President Asif Ali Zardari.
“The Constitution is very clear on the issue of immunity as under Article 248(2), the President, as Head of the State, has complete immunity and protection against any criminal proceedings as long as he is in office,” he said.