LAHORE - The Lahore High Court (LHC) once again allowed one week to Advocate Wasim Sajjad for arguments on maintainability and immunity in contempt case against President Asif Ali Zardari for not relinquishing political office, PPP’s co-chairmanship, in view of a judgment issued in 2011.

A five-member full bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial deferred further hearing on the contempt petition until January 22, and ordered Wasim Sajjad to advance arguments personally or submit them in writing.

On Monday, it was 20th hearing of the instant case that was filed in June 2012. The full bench had previously asked many times to federal government and Asif Ali Zardari to submit written objections raised by Wasim Sajjad to the maintainability of the contempt petition, but so far nothing had been submitted.

When the bench resumed 20th hearing, counsels for petitioner Munir Ahmed and Proforma respondent federal government including Asif Ali Zardari appeared, and jointly requested the court to adjourn the proceedings in view of a strike call given by Pakistan Bar Council to share grief of Quetta carnage’s victims.

Advocate Azhar Siddique and AK Dogar, counsels for petitioner requested the court to adjourn hearing for one day, but Wasim Sajjad for at least one week.

At this, the chief justice remarked the government had taken the action as per demands of protesters, who had staged three days continuous sit-in demanding the removal of Balochistan government, and there was no need to adjourn the case without holding proceedings.

The judiciary also with the victims’ families, but it had to perform its responsibilities according constitution instead of becoming part of the strikes.

In response of Wasim’s stance to adjourn the case for one week, Azhar said federal government and President Zardari had not established their case so far and their counsels intentionally wanted lingering the case. He pointed out that the case was being heard since June. But, Wasim said he was busy throughout the current week in other country’s courts.

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked the court did not want to leave any legal vacuum in the hearing of this case. Therefore, the court needed the assistance of a senior lawyer, the chief said addressing Wasim Sajjad.

The petitioner’s counsels had almost completed their arguments on the case, and now there were only three constitutional and legal points needed further arguments by the respondents’ counsels, the chief justice added.

There was need of arguments on nullified the Contempt of Court Act (COCA) 2012, nature of contempt of court proceedings and immunity to head of the state in criminal proceedings, the chief justice pointed out.

At this, counsel of both parties exchanged harsh words.

However, the bench put off hearing until January 22 stressing Wasim Sajjad to advance arguments on next date of hearing on aforesaid three points or submit the same in writing.

The chief justice also asked Wasim Sajjad that no further adjournment will be given to him in future. The bench observed that it wanted to conclude the matter; therefore, federation’s counsel must forward his arguments on next date of hearing.