Accidental Defaulter of Justice


Accidental Defaulter of Justice

Credit must be given to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for appearing before the Supreme Court in a dignified manner, sans the rowdy crowds that accompanied Nawaz Sharif when he was summoned as a sitting prime minister. Unlike Nawaz’s defiant mannerism, Gilani’s address to the court was dripping with deference and the nattily dressed CEO of the desperately poor nation did not rattle any judicial nerves either. It was a perfect Kodak moment, except for one little niggle: The prime minister may have been less than generous with this irritating phenomenon called the truth.

 

 

The prime minister, and his brilliant barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, would have the seven-member bench, and the 180 million ignorant us, believe that his refusal to write the darned letter to Swiss authorities in pursuance of the verdict of the 17-member bench was not willful default but had been sired by the legal advice offered by the government’s team. In other words, the gentleman was at worst just an ‘accidental defaulter of justice’.

 

 

Kaput. If only life, and politics, were that simple. We would never know for instance whether this flawed legal team had also recommended that the PM make provocative statements in the house or portray a legal matter as a trial of the grave of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. Was he also ‘advised’ to issue slanted statements against the Supreme Court and encourage humiliating and mocking theatrics by his sitting and former ministers? It would have added to the bona fide of the prime minister if he had shared why two attorney generals had walked out of their jobs in a huff and an equal number of changes had taken place in the office of the federal law secretary – particularly so when one of the former AGs has repeatedly stated publicly that he had advised the Gilani government to obey the court and write the letter.

 

 

Maybe the un-willful prime minister should also have told the court about the undeclared ‘willful’ purpose of the special session of parliament convened in the wake of the dismissal of the NRO review petition. According to someone who was involved in the entire judio-political consultative process (and ultimately affected the outcome as well), the core committee of the PPP advised by its legal eagle had decided to move a presidential reference against Chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and some others in parliament. Upon learning of this harakiri move, the leaders of the allied parties simply balked and plainly told the president and the prime minister that such a move could lead to a parting of ways. In this particular meeting, attended by the president, the prime minister and the head honchos of their closest trusted government allies, Dr Babar Awan faced some rather harsh criticism for supporting such a suicidal strategy. When the crazy idea of a presidential reference to the parliament was abandoned in favour of a parliamentary resolution, another heated debate took place over its proposed anti-judiciary tenor and the insistence that it come across as a direct vote of confidence both for the prime minister and the president. Here too the government backed off only when faced with the consequence of the allies walking off.

 

What transpired in this meeting exposes our rulers’ intrinsic and larger contempt for rule of law and not necessarily just the court itself. When a constitutionally elected government of the day wants to vanquish a constitutionally constituted Supreme Court only because it wants the government to observe its constitutional obligations then something is seriously wrong with the ruling mindset. Hardly a case of ‘accidental judicial defaulter’.

 

 

What is really at stake here in the ongoing contempt case, one wonders. Is it merely the criminal culpability of an individual called Yousuf Raza Gilani? Is it about a sitting prime minister telling the Supreme Court to take a hike come what may? Is it about the lame legal defence of I-didn’t-do-it-my-lawyer-told-me-to-do-it? Or is it about the court itself committing contempt of justice by not taking a stand for one ruse or another and not doing enough to implement its verdicts? It seems to be a little bit of all the above but the crux of the matter is: who gets to be the ultimate adjudicator in issues of law and justice and the final arbitrator in a case of constitutional interpretation? Will it be the Supreme Court of Pakistan or the lawyer(s) of the prime ministers and presidents? As put succinctly by former chief justice of the United States, Warrenberger, when faced with a similar question and referring to the US supreme court: “We are bound by the Constitution, and the constitution is what we interpret it to be”.

 

 

Will that ever be the case in Pakistan or will we see every recalcitrant and defiant government attempting to take refuge in the mantra of judicial activism and judicial overreach? What Pakistan suffers is not judicial overreach but executive under-delivery. But that’s another discourse better left for another occasion.

 

 

During Thursday’s preliminary hearing of the contempt case, Justice Khosa put it bluntly to Barrister Aitzaz that the court would like to see the “will” of the prime minister and asked him if he was willing to write the court ordered letter to Swiss authorities if that were the final word of this bench. It was a deliberate, willfully straight question, warranting a direct response. While implying tacitly that the verdict ‘may’ be implemented, Aitzaz was deliberately evasive in offering a direct reply and instead said that in such an eventuality “‘I’ would be acting in accordance with the Constitution.” The question again: who will decide what constitutes proper constitutional response?

 

 

The government would understandably want this legal wrangling to continue indefinitely till it runs the course first with the Senate and then the general elections. The postponement of the contempt case till Feb 1 seems to have taken care of the first phase. The judiciary now faces the dilemma of appearing to be in a hurry if it presses with a tougher and tighter timeline and of being spineless if it continues cajoling the government while breathing fire at the same time. It’s time for both the government and the judiciary to match deeds with words and let the nation breathe easy. We have bigger problems like a stagnant economy and millions disappearing under the poverty line every day and all this dilly-dallying isn’t helping matters.

 

 

It is the realm of the learned judges to decide upon the finer points of law, but for an ordinary citizen like myself, simply the commitment that ‘yes we will implement the court’s verdict’ would have been an ample demonstration of the prime minister’s will. Unfortunately, those words never came. Not even two years after the pronouncement of the NRO verdict. The country desperately needs rule of law, not that of rulers and lawyers.

 

 

 
The most significant development so far in the contempt case is that it already shows signs of opening the very debate that the government has been loathe to even countenance: that of presidential immunity. The ensuing arguments will surely also end up deciding the complex question of whether the writing of the letter to Swiss authorities is an issue of a civil liability (as suggested by the courts) which does not enjoy any immunity privilege under the Constitution or if it crosses the line as it involves coalescing in what is otherwise a clear criminal proceeding between the Swiss government and the respondents. The undeclared, biggest worry of the land’s mightiest however is not of a legal nature. It has more to do with the political consequences of the truth about where, and how, the $62 million stashed in Swiss vaults disappeared.



Mohammad Malick

Editor of The News, Islamabad


  • Usman Naseer

    Nothing new in that attempt to appear before the Supreme Court of Pakistan………… Just to tease and amke fun of Law and supremacy of Courts. Contempt was already paved its way when to sort the things with a ridiculous moves to present statements of dishonored miniters in the elite parliament of Pakistan. Who is not aware with the fact that PM of Pakistan is the most fraudulent and coorupt statesman in the history of Pakistan Democratic timeline but Media always try to express “Sab Acha Hai Roti Pani Milta Rahe Subko”. We have to change this egoistic and personal specific approach and to look forward in a sense that we can sacrifies our lives wven to give betterment to this society and our next generations. This one is the only way out of this unholy government of elites.

  • Kk

    Too much english … ROFL … On a serious note, this is turning out to be a big setup, in which the SC and Media are also playing their part. This is just delaying the current scenario and distracting people from other issues … People have been and will be treated like puppets and we will be played unless we put aside our differences , which honestly will be never …

    I wish Hitler was alive right now … Make them stand in one line and … “fire in the hole”

  • Raj Chouhan

    Mr. PM–Your political maturity has made my opinion stronger that Pakistan has no shortage of mature politicians who has vision and long term policies and ability to re-earn the lost glory of Pakistan. Best of Luck to you.

  • M. Imran Siddiqui

    Credit must be given to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for appearing before the Supreme Court in a dignified manner. During 4 years government had clearly refused as well delay tactics of SC orders. But they carry on that, Government always respect and obey SC orders. Now may perhaps Gilani and Zardari Government sponge down the said mark.

    Immediately Constructive revolutionize and reaction of Prime Minister of Pakistan Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani after appearing before SC. Same day he addressed in NA session and talk concerning Economic situation, Energy crises, reconstruction of national institutions and other issues of country first time during his government’s 4 year. Never before, First time he shown seriousness as Prime Minister, Its good sing

  • http://www.facebook.com/abdulrafeh Abdul Rafeh Iqbal

    the authorities, may it be the judiciary, the executive or the parliament, need to realize that the uproar of the masses is not specifically due to the memogate scandal nor the uprise of the Swiss cases (which requires no further discussion as the decision has been made).
    The main issue are the vast problems being faced by the masses in routine.
    When such issues are not addressed in a serious matter, also when they are not resolved; may it be in a long-term initiative, the society tends to support any party/body which opposes the ruling class. it is simple human nature.
    This is evident in human history whereas the most recent such happening can be directed towards the sudden support of Imran Khan. It is quite the same manner in which Z.A Bhutto received monumental support.
    Today, our country, the population is being faced by numerous issues involving inflation, unemployment, education, cheap and easy access to public resources; the involves access to energy and also administrative institutions like Tax Offices, Health services, Police etc.

    In the end it all boils down to a change of ideology.
    The executive, parliament and judiciary are in nature servants to the country and should be serving the interests of the country rather their own.
    They shouldn’t be regarded as the rulers of the country or the ruling class.

    Take the example of the honour many are giving to the Prime Minister for showing up at the Supreme Court. To serve the interests of the country sacrifices have to be made and an egotistical mind frame needs to cease to exist.

    Dwelling into a discussion regarding the $62 Mil will lead us forward in uncovering the truth about the current President which in essence should uncover a lot of other truths.
    But just getting rid of someone is not the end to the discussion, follow the statements of US courts regarding a “Rico” case where if a person of a group is convicted, in nature all the group members are also convicted in essence.

  • M.Saeed

    There is nothing credible in PM’s jungle-dance. First, an insult of the SC and then, appearance for an eye-wash! The fast one he pulled was least appreciated by the judges of the apex court. They can’t be rude and shameless in return. Otherwise, PM should have taken barber Awan to serious task for putting him in all those awkward places and casting bad images of him by ‘crafted default’. It is no use liking-the-spit now when an indelible harm to his image has already been done. Silent passing of blame to his face-lifters is no truth. Besides, when retrial of Z.A. Bhutto’s judgment is no “zombie trial”, how can it be BB’s grave trial? If all is well, then such a trial should be a blessing because, it would wash and remove all blames on her, for ever.

    Talking about the Presidential Immunity, a common man like me is simply governed by the “common-sense”. There is a simple analogy that can give an answer to the immunity issue, in the form of a question. The question is, can a person ever offer himself to be operated upon for his life saving surgery by some one he knows is not a qualified surgeon but, just a fake credential holder butcher?
    Imagine the present case. The President is holding the fort based upon the NRO which is no more there now (declared illegal) and all beneficiaries of NRO stand reverted to face the court’s music, right from the place where they stood before it (NRO), then the President also becomes “illegal President” and an illegal President is not protected by the Constitution. You cannot pick-and-chose law for all of your own conveniences and benefits.

  • Qureshi

    I must say to Mr. PM kindly read your own book “Chaah-e-Yousaf Se Sadaa” ka Intassab and Kindly think and pay the debt of nation.

  • A. Shah

    How can we give any credit to Mr. Gilani who is right hand of Mr. Zardari (Kind of Corruption). And supreme court also has declared that our prime minister is dishonest and he is more loyal with his part than nation.

  • Tariq

    Mr. Malick, i personally respect your sane analysis unlike most other analyst don’t have any. But your notion in start about PM who was summon by Court through Contempt notice is good sign? what other choice do PM had. Can he ignore the notice and remain behind Zardari? This was the long awaited contempt for nearly 2.5 years.
    Secondly, PM for not called for awarding any medal, he was called for most highest act any chief executive can dare. So he had to come. And whole nation see how.

    Third, PM didn’t came all alone, instead for two to three days before 19 th, whole Regime plans to go in the court. And the passes were seek through PM house. What was they were doing? Show of strength to the Judges that we are united (like crows), so be aware.

    Finally for your remarks about Brilliant Aitzaz, i am sorry to say he proves that he is loyal to party leadership only as always in past and not to the justice and his own community even to his opinion.

    I see Aitzaz induction at that stage with the exit of Babar awan as Zadari Good Cop, Bad Cop strategy.

  • Shams Ashraf

    What a poor nation we are, that’s their next part of the game to appearing before the Supreme Court and keep ignoring what supreme court says to them.
    It was just a political move nothing more than that. they will use these things as they used bibi murder last time. because it’s “shaheedon ki Party”
    what a dialoge that is. we are a stupid nation nothing more than that.

    Nothing will get better in presence Zardari & Co. in control.

  • SAM

    Sorry sir..! he is a deliberate defaulter of justice.

  • M.Saeed

    Remember the incident of Benazir’s first official visit to London as Prime Minister when ISI gave her a brief on some very sensitive country issues including the defense. It was clearly marked for “her eyes only” and to be personally shredded and flushed after examining. What did she do with it? After reading, she simply crumpled the brief and dropped it in the waste-basket of her Hotel suit. A smart room cleaner picked it up and found it a goldmine and got it cashed through some newspaper hawk-eye. Next day, the secret Intelligence Brief was flashed in several newspapers. That was the time when our Intelligence agencies got wise about her and named her “a serious security risk”.

    Compare our dandy-Prime Minister with Benazir and see how much he could be relied upon in such matters, not to talk about surrendering the whole security apparatus and secrets to him for playing around with.

  • Zafar Bokhari

    Most incompetent and intellectually bankrupt with ZERO economic sense PM of Pakistan. Shame on all of us electing such non-sense guy.

  • Haijaz_pk

    All of us must know, he is minister of president of Pakistan that too “Prime” so will advocate him or leave the portfolio. In our constitution its written that any clause/sub clause if clashes with Islamic principles will be replaced, some one should come up to file a writ in SC to cancel clashing clauses of privileged position of President to be above law or SC should take sue motto action & remove this unjustified privileging clause……sorry until then you are to bear…moreover unfortunately in Sainet PPP and its allies… “eli baba & forty thieves” will have 2/3 majority in next parliament due further misfortune that these assemblies (national & provincial both) were elected by engineered elections of Musharaf, a none sense,”Bay Zameer” person through 30 million fake votes registered under his so called “good governance”…so this clause will stand on the nations’ nerves….until some good muslim General takes over sorry to say again….