Zardari dual office case: LHC adjourns hearing to Nov 21
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday adjourned to Nov 21 the hearing of a contempt of court petition filed against President Asif Ali Zardari for not relinquishing the political office of PPP co-chairman, DawnNews reported.
A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, heard the case here.
During the hearing, the court forwarded a petition filed by the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) which had pleaded for the president’s disqualification to a single-judge bench. The chief justice of the LHC said that a full bench could not hear the petition, adding that, it would be up to the discretion of the single-judge bench whether or not to call for the formation of a larger bench.
Counsel for the president in the case, Wasim Sajjad, said that the court had not issued any order pertaining to the issue, adding that, rather it had simply spoken of its expectation.
Sajjad said that contempt of court proceedings could not be initiated on the basis of not meeting an expectation.
The court inquired of the president’s counsel as to why the court order pertaining to a cessation of political activities in the Presidency had not yet been implemented.
Responding to which, Sajjad said ‘contempt of court’ was in the category of criminal cases and added that the president enjoyed immunity from prosecution in such cases.
The LHC subsequently adjourned the hearing until Nov 21 and directed the president’s counsel to present his arguments pertaining to presidential immunity in criminal cases.
On Sept 5, the bench had issued a fresh notice to President Zardari through his principal secretary and had sought a reply to the petition pleading contempt proceedings against him for not abiding a court order to relinquish his political office.
The petition that had been filed by Munir Ahmad through lawyers A K Dogar and Azhar Siddique had accused President Zardari of indulging in political activities in the presidency. It had stated that the president had neither dissociated himself from the political office nor had he stopped ‘misusing’ the President House despite a verdict by the Lahore High Court’s full bench against the dual-office.
The petitioner had also contended that the use of Presidency for political activities was illegal and tantamount to committing contempt of the court’s orders issued on May 12 last year. He had also requested the court to issue a show-cause notice to the president and punish him under Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, read with Article 204 of the Constitution.