ISLAMABAD - The PM has so far ‘wilfully defied, disregarded and disobeyed’ the court order on the implementation of NRO judgment, given by 17-member judges on December 16, 2009 and the verdict dismissing the review petition.

Since the inception of contempt case the court time and again has asked the government to write to Swiss authorities for reopening the graft case against NRO beneficiaries, particularly President Asif Ali Zardari as Benazir Bhutto and Nusrat Bhutto have already expired. The PPP government’s stance that letter can’t be written as long as Zardari is president.

The PPP leadership says that writing letter to the Swiss would tantamount to conducting a trail of Benazir Bhutto’s grave and it also fears that once written to the Swiss authorities, the court could ask the government for reopening cases against President Zardari within Pakistan as well.

The government obstinacy over the last two years resulted in the framing of contempt of court charges against the PM Gilani on Feb 13. Today would be the third time that Gilani will appear before the seven-member bench, headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk and second time along with Aitzaz Ahsan, who will come to express solidarity with him. Security has been beefed up in and around the SC building and entry will be possible only on special passes.

Legal experts have different views. Some say there are chances the court will give another opportunity to the PM to comply its judgment on NRO as it is taking up the implementation of December 16, 2009 verdict – particularly para 178 of the judgment – on May 3.

Others’ view is that the premier could be convicted till the rising of the court but it will not disqualify him. But the imprisonment for six months, punishment laid down in Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003, may result in possible removal from office.

The legal gurus however, pointed out that president has the power to pardon the PM if he is convicted. SM Zafar, a senior lawyer, said such a presidential pardon would apply only to the punishment handed down by the court while the conviction would remain on record.

Therefore, the premier could be disqualified despite the pardon, he says. But former AGP Maulvi Anwarul Haq pointed out that in the contempt case of former premier Nawaz Sharif the court had set aside his conviction on the ground of pardon granted by the then President Rafiq Tarar.

Pakistan Bar Council member Ramzan Chaudhry says there are chances the court could use the ‘sixth option’ and send the matter to the parliament.

He says lawyers believe the matter should be sent to parliament; otherwise, there would be serious repercussion of PM’s conviction. Three law secretaries, three attorney generals (AGPs), a chairman and a prosecutor general of NAB and others had already been removed or had opted to resign on the issue of NRO.

Supreme Court Bar Association President Yaseen Azad was active for one week in order to bridge the gap between two pillars of the state and he along with bar delegations held a two-hour meeting with Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry last Thursday. He also held two meetings with newly-appointed Law Minister Farooq H Naek in the last two days.

 The SCBA president said that SCBA would remain neutral as they could not take stand against any organ of the state.