ISLAMABAD - Following Yousaf Raza Gilani’s ouster from the Prime Minister’s office for committing contempt of the Supreme Court by not writing to the Swiss authorities and expecting a similar ordeal for the new premier, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, the government on Wednesday decided to do away with the existing contempt of court law and replace it with new legislation.
The apex court has already given a July 12 deadline to the new PM for writing to the Swiss government, failure of which could land Ashraf in a position similar to that of Gilani before his disqualification.
In its meeting on Wednesday, the federal cabinet approved the Contempt of Court Bill, 2012 for introduction in parliament. Through the proposed bill, the scope of the right to appeal has been enhanced.Under the new draft bill, the president, prime minister, ministers and chief ministers will be immune from contempt of court proceedings under Article 284-1 of the constitution.
The draft bill also states that criticism of court orders, if made in the appropriate language, would not be contempt of court. Though it is unclear what would be the appropriate language of criticising the courts. Moreover, other necessary provisions relevant to contempt proceedings have also been incorporated in the draft bill.
DUAL NATIONALITY BILL: Besides, the cabinet also approved the dual nationality bill with majority to do away with the bar on people having dual nationalities from becoming members of parliament as well as provincial assemblies despite opposition from the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid. The coalition party’s minister Sardar Ghous Bux Mehr argued how could a person who had taken oath to remain loyal to a specific country, turn loyal towards another when there was a conflict of interests of both countries in question.
A source in the cabinet said that when the bill was tabled in the meeting, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira supported the bill, saying the bar on dual nationality holders should be lifted.
All for one, contempt for noneBut Mehr said how could a Pakistani national, “who is under oath to remain loyal and work for the interest of Pakistan, take oath to remain loyal to another country and work for the interests of that country. How could a person loyal to the constitution of US or UK be allowed to become member of the parliament of Pakistan?” However, the ministers toed the line adopted by Kaira and supported the law in a haste. Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari summoned a session of National Assembly on Friday with an objective to approve the Dual Nationality Bill, while the Senate would be summoned on Monday. In a briefing for the media later, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the PPP and its allied parties fully believed that stability of national institutions was vital to make democracy strong in the country, and there was no question of putting any restrictions on the superior judiciary through the Contempt of Court Bill. To a query on the Dual Nationality Bill, he said it was part of the PPP manifesto to provide right of vote and election to overseas Pakistanis.