All eyes would be on the Supreme Court's verdict when Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani would appear before the apex court today for formal charges in contempt proceedings.

The Supreme Court on Feb. 10 rejected Gilani's appeal, seeking to withdraw "contempt of court's charges", which the apex court has leveled against him.

The prime minister's defence lawyer, barrister Aitzaz Ahsan says, Mr Gilani will appear before the larger bench of the court to be formally charged for not implementing the court orders.

The prime minister and his ruling Pakistan Peoples party (PPP) have so far refused to write to Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against President Zardari in spite of several court's orders.

They argue that the president enjoys immunity under the constitution as head of state. The ruling party also claims that the corruption charges are politically motivated. But the court is not impressed and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary, who had dismissed Gilani's review appeal on Friday, observed that "the court can go to any extent to implement its verdict".

Gilani had earlier appeared before a seven-member larger bench of the Supreme Court on January 19 and defended his government's decision not to approach the Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Zardari, who is also co-Chairman of the PPP.

The country's anti-graft institution says that millions of dollars have been transferred to Swiss banks illegally and that the money must be returned. The National Accountability Bureau had earlier suggested a probe as to how the money had been shifted to Swiss banks and that it must be investigated who own the money.

The court ordered reopening of all graft cases in 2009 that were dropped against President Zardari and nearly 8000 people, mostly political leaders and government officials, under a law introduced by former military President Pervez Musharraf. The National Reconciliation Ordinance was issued in 2007 at the conclusion of secreat talks between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto.

The opposition parties claim that the money belong to the President and his widow, Benazir Bhutto, the two-time Prime Minister, who was killed in a suicide bomb blast and firing in December 2007 two months after she returned to Pakistan after years of self-exile.

Despite the court's orders and mounting pressure by the opposition parties to respect these orders, the government and the President himself are reluctant to write to Swiss authorities. Several coalition partners are also advising the government to send the letter to end the controversy. President Zardari said in a TV interview in December that writing letter to Swiss officials would mount to trial of the grave of Benazir Bhutto.

The controversy has brought the court and the beleaguered Prime Minister Gilani to direct confrontation and legal experts even believe that the tension can deprive the Prime Minister of his office.

Legal experts and retired judges are of the opinion that if found guilty of contempt of court's charges, the Prime Minister can face prison and losing of his parliamentary seat as well as a five-year ban of holding any public office.

Gilani told a public meeting in Punjab province that the people have rendered a lot of sacrifices so far and now it is the "turn of the rulers to sacrifice". The PM's remark is seen in the context of the government-judiciary tussle as many believe the PM has made mind not to budge from the earlier stand when he appears in the Supreme Court on Monday.

The controversy could only be averted and the contempt of charges withdrawn if the Prime Minister tender unconditional apology and accept the court's order to write letter to the Swiss authorities, legal experts say.