ISLAMABAD - Former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani Friday filed an intra-court appeal praying the Supreme Court to set aside his conviction and sentence of contempt of court.

On April 26, 2012 a seven-member bench convicted and sentenced the former PM under Article 204(2) of the constitution read with the section 3 of contempt of court Ordinance till the rising of the court. On June 19, 2012, a three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry disqualified Yousaf Raza Gillani, from the office of Prime Minister as well as member of the Parliament.

In February 2013 Mr. Gilani had filed a review petition against his disqualification but a three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, on March 13, 13 ordered him to first remove the hurdle in the way of his disqualification as member of National Assembly.

In pursuance of that order Mr. Gilani Friday filed the intra court appeal, in person, under section 19 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003. The petitioner stated that despite his clear and unequivocal support and respect for the judiciary he was erroneously convicted and sentenced for ‘willful flouting, disregard and disobedience of apex court in the order passed in National Reconciliation Ordinance.

The former PM contended that during the entire contempt of court proceeding neither the court, nor the counsels involved in prosecuting the appellant broached upon the issue whether his so called disobedience of court’s directions in NRO ‘tended to bring this court and the judiciary into ridicule.’

The PPP leader maintained that after his ouster as PM, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf became the new premier of the country. He too was issued notice of contempt of court on similar grounds for non-compliance of paragraph 178 of Dr. Mobashir Hassan judgment for not writing the letter to the Swiss authorities for reviving the cases against NRO beneficiaries, including President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland.

Initially Raja Pervaiz Ashraf took the same stance, taken by him that President being the head of state enjoyed immunity from prosecution under Article 248 of the Constitution therefore no letter or communication can be addressed to any domestic or foreign authority for initiation of criminal proceedings against the head of state. The court this time showed some indulgence and gave weightage that the government could assert the Presidential immunity before the Swiss authorities. PM Ashraf also showed flexibility and agreed to write letter to the Swiss authorities. Mr. Gilani maintained that his stand for not writing letter to Swiss authorities was an official act as Prime Minister, after a decision to that effect taken by the Cabinet, and there was nothing personal about it. That official act set aside and reviewed by PM Raja Ashraf, which the august court endorsed it.

The ex-PM stated: “His official act as premier based on his bona fide belief and opinion on the issue and was never to ridicule the court or cause any hindrance in administration of justice.”