ISLAMABAD - Conviction over the contempt of court charges has direct bearing on the disqualification, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry said in NA Speaker ruling case on Friday, a private TV channel reported.
Heading a three-member bench hearing numerous identical petitions filed against the ruling of National Assembly Speaker Dr. Fahmida Mirza for not triggering a reference of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani’s disqualification to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the Chief Justice Chaudhry said, ‘Can a man convicted on corruption charges, hold the office of premiership while sitting in a jail?’
Opening proceedings with his arguments, the PM Gilani’s counsel Aitzaz pleaded that sentence of less than two years does not stand any member of the Parliament disqualified, adding only a sentence of at least two years after conviction on charges of moral depravity, can result in disqualification.
‘Can anyone stay as Prime Minister in jail after being sentenced on corruption charge?’ the CJP queried.
Ahsan replied, “No, I am not saying that; the Constitution tells so.”
“How a man clad in white jail uniform, run the state’s affairs from jail?” asked the CJ.
But, Ahsan quipped that the Constitution admits of this; though, the politics has it the other way.
The Chief Justice Chaudhry remarked, “How can the Constitution sanction that a corrupt man is allowed to rule the country?”
The charge of contempt of court is of three kinds and only one kind impacts the member of the Parliament.
The matter could have been raised in an appeal; but, you conceded to the sentence, the Chief Justice Chaudhry remarked.
Ahsan argued the PM Gilani acceded to the sentence not the disqualification, adding there was no need to file an appeal as the Prime Minister has served his punishment term.
Chief Justice asserted that punishment in contempt of court case is directly related with disqualification.
Demanding the formation of a larger bench to hear the issue, Ahsan said this is a significant legal matter.
Referring to his carping criticism of the Chief Justice Chaudhry, Attorney General of Pakistan Irfan Qadir said he did not attempt contempt, as his overall upbringing is as such.
The Attorney General said a section of media is peddling the issue and threatening him.
The court adjourned the hearing till Monday. The court ordered Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan to complete his argument on Monday by 11 am.