LAHORE - Most in the PPP cadres think that Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf should not appear before the Supreme Court on August 27; but that could earn him arrest warrants, the legal experts warn.

“Though a final decision on PM’s appearance in court has yet to be taken, the majority view prevailing in the PPP at the moment is that he should not show up because the judges have already made up their mind to punish the second PPP prime minister,” Adviser to the PM, Fawad Ch advocate told this scribe. Federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira also said they had not decided about it so far.

TheNation talked to senior lawyers asking them about the possible options available to the court in case Raja’s non-appearance.

“If the prime minister opts not to appear on August 27, the attorney general would have to file an application seeking exemption from appearance giving cogent reasons. If the court is convinced, it may fix another date for the hearing. But if the PM did not turn up yet again, the court may issue his arrest warrants – bailable or non-bailable – to ensure his presence”, former law minister and noted lawyer, Khalid Ranjha opined.

Justice (r) Zahid Hussain Bokhari said that though it would be premature and hypothetical to say anything but for the sake of a legal argument he would say that court has all the powers to summon the prime minister. He said that SC may issue arrest warrants for the PM to make him appear before the court which may be bailable or non-bailable. He, however, hoped that such a situation would not arise.

Senior advocate Ahmad Awais also said the court had powers to issue arrest warrants for the prime minister in case of non-compliance of its orders.

“The NRO implementation case may take a different turn if the prime minister does not appear before the apex court as is being contemplated in PPP circles at the moment”, said Fawad Ch, another lawyer who also defended General Pervez Musharraf for quite some time in the past.

He was of the view that prime minister’s presence in the court was necessary, as no ex-parte decision could be taken in criminal cases. Fawad also agreed that court may issue arrest warrants for the PM in case he fails to appear before it.

Arrest warrants if PM fails to appear in court