Dual office case: President enjoys immunity, says LHC CJ
LAHORE: During Friday’s hearing of the contempt of court petition over the president’s dual office, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that although the court could convict anyone for committing contempt of court, fact remained that the president enjoyed immunity under Article 248(2) of the Constitution.
The LHC heard the contempt of court petition against President Asif Ali Zardari for not relinquishing political office in the light of a judgment passed by the LHC last year.
The bench, headed by Justice Bandial, heard the petition. Other members of the bench include Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh, Justice Sheikh Najmul Hassan, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah.
During the hearing, arguments continued pertaining to the constitutional immunity enjoyed by the president.
Moreover, the petitioner’s counsel, A K Dogar, stated that the High Courts and the Supreme Court could convict an offender for committing contempt of court.
Dogar questioned the concept of presidential immunity and asked what may have happened if the president was to murder someone.
Moreover, the petitioner said that if the president was not convicted and sentenced for committing contempt of court, the concept of an independent judiciary would cease to exist.
Responding to which, the bench stated that although the head of state was not answerable to anyone, the president was still bound to respect and follow judicial orders.
Justice Bandial said the country would be peaceful and would prosper when people would abide by the Constitution. Violating the Constitution would adversely affect all sections of national life.
Subsequently, the bench adjourned the hearing to Dec 10 and directed the counsels to continue their arguments on presidential immunity.
Earlier on Thursday, the bench had sought arguments as to whether Article 248(2) of the Constitution bans entertaining a contempt of court petition against the president.
On Sept 5, the bench had issued a fresh notice to President Asif Ali Zardari through his principal secretary and had sought a reply to the petition pleading contempt proceedings against him for not abiding the court’s 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 disassociated 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.