ISLAMABAD – Opposition PML-N and emerging PTI Monday filed two separate petitions in the Supreme Court against national assembly speaker’s giving a clean chit to convicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on his disqualification issue and the premiere’s ‘lavish’ visit to the UK.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan filed a constitutional petition against the NA speaker’s ruling and Gilani’s recent visit to UK through senior lawyer Hamid Khan. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) central leader Khawaja Asif filed a similar petition, in person, stating that May 24 ruling of the NA Speaker Fehmida Mirza, who rejected a reference seeking Gilani’s disqualification as assembly member, was ‘arbitrary, capricious and illegal’.

They have made PM Gilani, NA speaker, the federation – through law and justice ministry and cabinet division – and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as respondents. They have prayed the court to restrain Gilani from holding the office and performing the functions of the prime minister, and to declare the ruling of NA speaker unconstitutional and in violation of fundamental rights of access to justice and independence of judiciary.

It has also been prayed that ECP be directed to decide the question of Gilani’s disqualification under article 63(2) and (3) of the constitution. “There is no moral ground for Gilani to hold the office any more, PTI advocate argued in the petition adding that “Gilani’s visit to Britain along with an 80-member delegation was burden on taxpayers of the poor people”.

A seven-member bench of the Supreme Court on April 26 convicted the prime for committing contempt of court under article 204(2) of the constitution read with section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 for willful flouting, disregard and disobedience of the apex court judgment on NRO. But Dr Fehmida On May 24 passed the order: “I am of the view that the charges against Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani are not relatable to the ground mentioned in paragraph (g) or (h) of article 63, therefore no question of disqualification of Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani from being a member arises under clause (2) of article 63 of the constitution.”

After the Speaker’s order the PM and his counsel dropped the idea of filing appeal and took the position that speaker’s verdict is final in PM case. But the opposition parties have contested it. Khawaja Asif’s stance is that as the PM has not filed any appeal against his conviction and punishment so far which, needless to say, also amounts to a ‘confession or his part.’ Imran Khan’s view is that the decision not to file appeal means that the conviction attained finality, adding in any case, the period of limitation provided under section 19 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance has already expired.

Khawaja Asif contends that Gilani stood disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the national assembly and consequently from being the PM and that he was no longer the prime minister.

“Being ruled by a convicted and disqualified person, who was deciding the fate and future of the people was a disgraceful offence to the right of the people to life and to their right to lead a life of dignity, honour and pride as guaranteed, inter-alia by articles 4,9 and 14 of the constitution.”